08 June 2005

Testimony of Dr Geeta Rao Gupta

“The most extreme form of male power is violence against women – and we now know that physical violence, the threat or fear of violence, and the fear of abandonment and destitution interact with other gender-based economic and social inequalities to significantly increase women’s vulnerability.

One in three women around the world has experienced violence in the intimate settings of their homes and within their marriages. We have fought for many years as an international development community towards the freedom from hunger, want, and disease – but somehow we forgot that what many women desperately need is the freedom from fear. Fear of violence and abuse regulates the behavioral choices of more women than we care to know. It regulates the behavior of women from a wide range of socioeconomic classes, ages, and geographical regions. And the costs of violence are borne by women themselves, their children, as well as the communities and economies in which they live.

A recent study conducted by ICRW in partnership with epidemiologists in India found that 40 percent of almost 10,000 women surveyed had experienced physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner at least once in their lives. Nearly two-thirds of those had experienced physical violence three or more times and half had experienced violence during pregnancy. In addition to physical injury, the study found that violence has both emotional and economic impacts on individuals and families. Women reported loss of motivation and energy, a decrease in productivity, with a high percentage having considered suicide. The economic costs were also found to be very high. A preliminary estimate indicates that a serious incidence of violence, leading to hospitalization or inability to work, results in the loss of 30 to 40 percent of the monthly income of rural households.”

Dr Geeta Rao Gupta, President of International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus & Congressional Women's Caucus on 29 October 2003 [excerpt]

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