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Women Exposed to Domestic Violence Experience Long-Lasting Health Problems, At Increased Risk of HIV Infection, Report Says

November 28, 2005

Women who suffer physical abuse from intimate partners -- the most common form of violence perpetrated against women worldwide -- experience serious health consequences, according to a report released on Thursday by the World Health Organization, the AP/Boston Globe reports. The survey of 24,000 women in 10 countries found that women who suffer domestic abuse were twice as likely as other women to suffer health problems, including pain, dizziness, gynecological and mental health problems, which persist after the abuse has stopped, the report says. They also were more likely to have had a miscarriage or an induced abortion (Ross, AP/Boston Globe, 11/24). The report says 4% to 12% of respondents who had been pregnant said they were beaten during pregnancy (Nebehay/Reaney, Reuters UK, 11/24). The survey, which was conducted in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the nongovernmental organization PATH, was the first global report on domestic violence (AP/Boston Globe, 11/24). Researchers surveyed women in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Namibia, Peru, Samoa, Serbia and Montenegro, Tanzania and Thailand (WHO release, 11/24). Rates of domestic abuse varied between 15% of women in Japan to 71% in Ethiopia (AP/Boston Globe, 11/24). Fewer than half of the women who had been abused said they sought help from law enforcement authorities. In roughly half of the sites surveyed, women said it was acceptable for a man to beat his wife in certain situations (Vergano, USA Today, 11/26). To combat the violence, WHO recommends bolstering support services for women and training medical workers to recognize the signs of domestic abuse (Schlein, VOA News, 11/24). The report was released ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which was marked on Friday. The U.N. Development Fund for Women also called for more awareness about the link between violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS (U.N. News Service, 11/25).

New York Times Examines Practice in Africa of Forced Marriages
The New York Times on Sunday examined the practice in some remote villages in Africa in which young girls are married off -- "sometimes to husbands as much as half a century older" -- in transactions with other families. In some communities, girls often "must leap straight from childhood to marriage at a word from their fathers," sometimes "years before they reach puberty," according to the Times. Such forced marriages can lead to "staggering" consequences, including the spread of HIV, a lack of education, early pregnancies and high-risk births, and a life of subservience, the Times reports (LaFraniere, New York Times, 11/27).

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