Fiji Time: 11:05 PM on Friday 19 December

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Violence all across

Nasik Swami
Saturday, February 02, 2013

BEING pregnant in Fiji has not stopped a woman from experiencing violence at the hands of her husband or partner, a national survey has revealed.

The first major survey conducted by the Fiji Women's Crisis Centre in the country whereby 3193 women aged between 18 and 64 were interviewed, 15 per cent or 479 were physically assaulted during pregnancy by their spouse or partner.

The survey was carried out between 2010 and 2011 with the survey sample provided by the government's Bureau of Statistics.

FWCC deputy co-ordinator Edwina Kotoisuva said out of the 3193 women interviewed, one in three pregnant women were severely abused which included being hit or kicked in the stomach.

Ms Kotoisuva said the survey, which was carried out using the World Health Organisation methodology, showed that violence against women cut across all aspects of their lives but with some groups more at risk than others.

"The consequences of violence against women on their reproductive health and children were laid bare in the survey.

"Women who experienced physical or sexual violence were more likely to have a miscarriage than those who have not experienced violence," she said.

Of the children whose mothers experienced physical violence, Ms Kotoisuva said more than half of the interviewed number or 54.8 per cent had seen or heard their mother being assaulted.

"Violence against women was also found to have a range of negative impacts on children and their schooling," she said.

The survey also found out that most women bore the violence they experienced in silence, not reaching out anywhere for help.

"Almost half of all the women living with a partner had never told anybody about the violence and almost four out of five women had never sought help from any agency to deal with it," Ms Kotoisuva said.

She said out of the number interviewed, less than one in five women went to police or health centres and hospitals for help.