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Claire Doole in Geneva
"For millions of women the home is a place of terror"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 31 May, 2000, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Women suffer 'violence epidemic'
A third of Canadian women suffer violence in marriage
The United Nations children's agency, Unicef, says domestic violence against women and girls worldwide remains an epidemic, despite international pledges five years ago to reduce the problem.

Violence: the facts
Egypt: 35% of women beaten by husbands
Nicaragua: 52% abused by partner at least once
US: 28% reported physical violence from partner
South Korea: 38% abused by husband
Unicef says in a report that in some countries, half the female population has suffered physical, sexual or mental abuse.

Sex-selective abortion, killings of baby girls and inferior access to food and medicine mean that there are 60 million fewer women in the world than there should be.

The bulk of that discrepancy occurs in South Asia, North Africa, the Middle East and China, Unicef said.

Call for action

The Unicef study said: "They are victims of their own families, killed deliberately or through neglect simply because they are female."

Governments should ensure that there is no impunity for the perpetrators of domestic violence

Unicef says a third of women in Canada and Egypt suffer violence from their husbands at least once, and Russian women are two-and-a-half times more likely to be murdered by their partners than women in the United States.

But then again, American women are twice as likely to be killed by their partners as women in western European countries.

About two million women a year are mutilated
About two million women a year undergo genital mutilation, while dowry-related violence in India is on the rise.

The report, which will be considered at a meeting in New York on Monday, calls on governments to stop ignoring domestic violence against women and to ensure those responsible are prosecuted.

The meeting will also assess what governments, businesses and individuals have done since a UN women's conference in Beijing five years ago to achieve equality of the sexes.

Fighting back

Latin American nations acting to end impunity for domestic violence perpetrators
Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay
The report says: "Governments should ensure that there is no impunity for the perpetrators of domestic violence and that incidents of family violence are investigated and punished."

A number of Latin American countries have enacted legislation to end impunity for perpetrators.

Some countries including Mexico, Namibia, South Africa and the United States have also begun to legislate against marital rape, but sexual abuse and rape by an intimate partner is not considered a crime in most countries, the report notes.

In Africa, marital rape has exacerbated the spread of the Aids virus, Unicef said, citing a Zimbabwean study which found that 26% of women were being forced to have sex against their will.

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12 Apr 00 | South Asia
Call for tougher Indian rape laws
11 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
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