Violence against women reaches epidemic proportions — WHO

24-06-2013 01:25 PM

Ammon News - By Abeer Numan/ Jordan Times

AMMAN — Ending and reducing violence against women will help them lead healthier and better lives, Sisterhood Is Global Institute/Jordan (SIGI/J) CEO Munir Idaibes said on Sunday.

Idaibes was commenting on a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report that said the prevalence of intimate partner violence was among the highest in Eastern Mediterranean countries.

Based on aggregate data from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, the prevalence of this type of violence was computed at 37 per cent.

The report, “Global and regional estimates of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence”, said that intimate partner violence was the most common type of violence against women, affecting 30 per cent worldwide.

Released by WHO in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council on June 20, the report highlighted psychological and physical health problems women suffer from as a result of physical or sexual violence.

The problems range from broken bones to pregnancy-related complications, mental problems and impaired social functioning, besides death, the report pointed out.

WHO found that violence against women is the least prevalent in Europe, at 27.2 per cent, and highest in Africa, at 45.6 per cent.

“These findings send a powerful message that violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions,” said WHO Director General Margaret Chan.

“We also see that the world’s health systems can and must do more for women who experience violence,” the WHO website quoted her as saying.

In Jordan, “it is difficult to tell whether violence against women is increasing or decreasing because of the absence of recent statistical studies in this regard”, Musa Shteiwi, professor of sociology at the University of Jordan, told The Jordan Times on Sunday.

“It is obvious that it is a widespread phenomenon... and we are talking about all forms of violence, including verbal abuse,” Shteiwi said.

He cited a study conducted in 2007 on all types of violence in Jordan that showed that six out of 10 women were subjected to at least one form of abuse, he said, noting that these results are similar to those in the WHO report.

In Jordan, there are cultural tensions and conflicts between traditional and modern values, he said, adding that despite high levels of education, the concept of equal rights is not that common and there are many men who want women to relinquish their powers, he explained.

In 2012, the Family Protection Department received 7,931 cases of violence against women, of which 27 per cent were referred to court and 12 per cent to administrative leaders, according to the SIGI/J website.

Of the overall figure, 578 cases were sexual violence, involving 295 women and 283 girls.

In its annual report for 2012, SIGI/J said it received 84 cases of women who were victims of violence, including sexual abuse and being forced into harmful and unacceptable sexual practices, including prostitution.

Moreover, the institute received 70 cases of girls and women who were subjected to physical abuse, including being hit in the head, kicked, having their hair pulled, bitten and shackled with metal chains.

In March 2013, Chan joined the UN secretary general and the heads of other UN entities in a call for zero tolerance for violence against women at the Commission on the Status of Women in New York.

During the 66th World Health Assembly in May 2013, seven governments — Belgium, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, the US and Zambia — declared violence against women and girls “a major global public health, gender equality and human rights challenge, touching every country and every part of society” and proposed the issue should appear on the agenda of the 67th World Health Assembly.

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