Following the release of the International Development Committee’s report on Violence Against Women and Girls, a debate was held to discuss the vital issues covered by this report.
Violence against women has been called the most pervasive yet least recognised human rights abuse in the world. As many as one in three women in the world have suffered some form of abuse, most often by someone she knows, including her husband or another male family member. Any such abuse can leave deep psychological scars and damage the health of women and girls, especially their reproductive and sexual health, and sometime results in death or leaves them permanently disabled, ruining their lives.
The effects of violence on a woman’s reproductive health can be profound, from unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions to complications from frequent, high-risk pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Gender-based violence is sustained by a culture of silence and a denial of the seriousness of the health consequences of abuse. In addition to individual harm, those consequences exact a social toll and place a heavy burden on health services. Gender-based violence is sustained by silence, so women’s voices must be heard and every effort must be made to enable women to speak out against it, and to get help when they are victims of it.