This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Friday, June 21, 2013

World-Wide Epidemic of Violence Against Women

One of the sad truths about the world is that we still have a long way to go in terms of equality of men and women. The status of women is an important "behind-the-scenes" driver of many demographic phenomena in the world, and the empowerment of women is a huge health, not just social justice, issue. This latter point was highlighted today by a new report just out from the World Health Organization on "Global and Regional Estimates of Violence Against Women."
The report details the impact of violence on the physical and mental health of women and girls. This can range from broken bones to pregnancy-related complications, mental problems and impaired social functioning.
The report’s key findings on the health impacts of violence by an intimate partner were:
* Death and injury – The study found that globally, 38% of all women who were murdered were murdered by their intimate partners, and 42% of women who have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of a partner had experienced injuries as a result.
* Depression – Partner violence is a major contributor to women’s mental health problems, with women who have experienced partner violence being almost twice as likely to experience depression compared to women who have not experienced any violence.
* Alcohol use problems – Women experiencing intimate partner violence are almost twice as likely as other women to have alcohol-use problems.
* Sexually transmitted infections – Women who experience physical and/or sexual partner violence are 1.5 times more likely to acquire syphilis infection, chlamydia, or gonorrhoea. In some regions (including sub-Saharan Africa), they are 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV.
* Unwanted pregnancy and abortion – Both partner violence and non-partner sexual violence are associated with unwanted pregnancy; the report found that women experiencing physical and/or sexual partner violence are twice as likely to have an abortion than women who do not experience this violence.
* Low birth-weight babies – Women who experience partner violence have a 16% greater chance of having a low birth-weight baby.
Overall, the report showed that violence against women was highest in Africa (46 percent prevalence rate against women), and the lowest was in Europe (27 percent). Clearly, even that "lowest" figure is way too high.

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