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Tuesday, 6 March, 2001, 12:59 GMT
One in five women assaulted

Millions of women are subjected to daily torture, rape and battery, mostly by family members or employers, human rights group Amnesty International says.

In a report - Broken bodies, shattered minds - released ahead of International Women's Day on 8 March, Amnesty says torture is fed by a "global culture which denies equal rights with men, and which legitimises violence against women."

The mere perception that a woman has damaged a family's honour can lead to torture and ill treatment

Amnesty report
While agents of the state and armed groups are often responsible for inflicting violence on women and girls, for many, "their home is a place of terror", the organisation says.

Amnesty accuses many governments of not only failing to tackle the problem but also covering up incidents of torture and, in some cases, acquiescing in such abuses.

Domestic violence

Citing World Bank figures, Amnesty says one in five women have been physically or sexually assaulted.

"Official reports in the United States say a woman is battered every 15 seconds and 700,000 are raped each year.

"In India more than 40% of married women report being kicked, slapped or sexually abused," the organisation says.

Many domestic workers are foreign nationals who are frequently ill-treated by their employers

Amnesty International
It says in Egypt, 35% of women have reported being beaten by their husbands.

In many parts of the world, police routinely fail to investigate abuses reported by women and frequently send women back home to abusive situations rather than file complaints, Amnesty says.

The report highlights groups that are particularly vulnerable because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social status, class and age.

Such groups include:

  • Domestic workers, who as foreign nationals are often ill-treated by their employers and are unable to seek redress

  • Girls and women in countries such as Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey who are tortured or killed for so-called honour crimes - bringing shame on their families by their behaviour, such as talking to a man or having sexual relations outside marriage

  • Women who are forced into slavery and sexual exploitation

  • Those who are singled out for torture in armed conflicts because of their role as educators and as symbols of the community

Amnesty says that besides police indifference, women face such obstacles as a failure to define abuses as criminal offences, gender bias in courts and legal procedures, which hamper a fair criminal prosecution.

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See also:

27 Sep 00 | Middle East
Amnesty raps Saudis over women's rights
29 Nov 00 | South Asia
Bangladesh torture 'endemic'
13 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
China rejects Amnesty torture report
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