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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

September-20-00

UNFPA Report Cites Widespread Violence Against Women And High Illegal Abortion Death Rate

The United Nations Population Fund's (UNFPA) State of World Population Report 2000 finds that "violence against women and girls remains firmly rooted in all cultures around the world." According to the reports findings 67% of women in Papau New Guinea, 47% of women in Bangladesh, 45% of women in Ethiopia, 40% of women in India, 27% of women in Mexico and 22% of women in the United States reported physical assault by a male partner. UNFPA cites that often times physical assault on women usually occurs in the hands of a person whom they know. The report finds that dowry demands attribute almost 50% of all murder cases where women are victims; 60 million girls are unaccounted for due to sex -selective abortions and infanticide; at least 130 million women have been forced to undergo female genital mutilation and another 2 million are at risk annually; up to 5,000 women and girls are victims of so-called "honour" killings-some 1,000 women were murdered out of so called "honour" in Pakistan alone last year; and every minute one woman dies of pregnancy related causes.

Also included in UNFPA's report are data that show large numbers of women die as a result of illegal, unsafe abortions and that violence against women causes "immense damage" to women's and girls' reproductive health. The report estimates an annual 50 million abortions and 78,000 deaths as a result of unsafe abortions. By comparison, 54,000 American GIs died in all seven years of the Vietnam War, and the UN's reported 78,000 is probably a low estimate, with at least four countries not fully reporting abortion-related deaths. The report also notes that at least 25 percent of all unsafe abortions are to girls between the ages of 15 and 19. According to the report, countries have paid only $2.1 billion of their $5.7 billion pledge to expand reproductive health programs over the past year. Lack of education on reproductive health issues, violence, coercion, and rape, and lack of access to reproductive health services are factors contributing to this dire situation. But the report asserts that global family planning funds and projects are key to improving women's health worldwide. The punitive policies of the United States forbid the use of U.S. funds for safe, legal abortions abroad.

LEARN MORE Click here to read women's narratives about barriers or successes in accessing reproductive health and family planning services.

Media Resources: The State of World Population 2000, the United Nations Population Fund; BBC News 20 September 2000; Associated Press 20 September 2000


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