DEVELOPMENT REPORT - Violence Against Women

By Caty Weaver

This is Bill White with the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT. The United Nations says violence against women and girls is widespread among all cultures and economic levels around the world. The problem was discussed at the international conference on women held last week at the UN.

The UN agency UNICEF says violence carried out by the victim's family members is the most common kind of violence against females. It is called domestic violence. A new UNICEF report says domestic violence is one of the worst kinds of human rights violations. This is because the attacker fails to honor the natural trust among family members.

UNICEF says such action affects the emotional and physical health of victims. The agency says violence by a family member makes a woman feel unworthy. It can affect her financial security. It can also interfere with normal development if the victim is young.

Sushma Kapoor wrote the UNICEF report. She says domestic violence also can be psychological. Victims of repeated psychological violence say emotional torture and living in fear is worse than physical mistreatment.

The UNICEF report says world population has been greatly affected by violence toward females. It says there are an estimated sixty-million fewer women than men in the world.

The report says this is because some cultures value men and women differently. For example, males are considered more important in parts of South Asia, North Africa, the Middle East and China. This often leads to the ending of pregnancies in which the fetus is female. It also can result in killings of female babies. And, in such cultures, girls are often given less food to eat or medicines to treat diseases.

Mizz Kapoor says such cultures often consider women the property of men. She says this is one reason some men feel they have the right to punish women in their family. She says such action is permitted by the culture.

The UNICEF report says domestic violence also includes preventing females from getting education or medical care. And, it includes forcing females to exchange sex for money or to work for little or no pay.

The report says forty-four countries have passed legislation to deal with domestic violence. The UN agency is calling for more laws so that the people who carry out domestic violence are punished for their acts.

This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Caty Weaver. This is Bill White.

Voice of America Special English