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The BBC's Flora Botsford in Valencia
"The discussions now move on to women and armed conflict"
 real 28k

Thursday, 23 November, 2000, 16:46 GMT
'Quarter of women suffer domestic violence'
circumciser
Female genital mutilation is on the agenda
One in four women suffers domestic violence at some time in their lives, sociologist Liz Kelly told delegates to a conference on violence against women that opened in the Spanish city of Valencia on Thursday.

In some countries, that figure is higher than one in two, and one in 10 women is currently suffering from some form of abuse, she said.

The three-day conference will address the way women are affected by war, domestic violence and sexual exploitation, as well as genital mutilation.

It opened with a passionate address by the director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women, Noeleen Heyzer of Malaysia.

"Violence against women can be stopped if we have the political will," she said.

Sexism and abuse

Ms Kelly told the BBC that fighting sexism would help reduce abuse of women.

Suzanne Mubarak
Suzanne Mubarak, the Egyptian First Lady, hosted an Arab women's conference
"Violence against women happens because of gender inequality," she said.

While not ruling out the theory that men abuse women because they are threatened by the changes inherent in globalisation, Ms Kelly said that violence against women is an age-old problem.

"It is not something new that happened with globalisation," she said.

Arab conference

The Valencia conference opened the day after an Arab women's conference closed in Cairo.

Nine First Ladies, including Queen Rania of Jordan and Suha Arafat, the Palestinian leader's wife, took part in that conference, which called for a greater women's role in political decision-making.

The Arab women also discussed discriminatory legislation and ways to enable women to have both careers and family life.

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See also:

20 Nov 00 | Middle East
Arab women demand equal opportunities
17 Nov 00 | Scotland
Women fear transport safety
10 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Timor women 'kept as sex slaves'
20 Nov 00 | South Asia
South Asian sexism 'among the worst'
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