Domestic violence rampant in Ethiopia, says UNFPA

Domestic violence is so usual, in Ethiopia that nine out of ten women think their husbands are justified in beating them, a UN report released on Wednesday said.

The report, compiled by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said the women believed it was in order to be punished, especially when a wife went out without telling her spouse, neglected the children or prepared food badly.

"Violence against women has long been shrouded in a culture of silence," Monique Rakotomalala, the UNFPA representative in Ethiopia, said at the launch of a report titled: "State of the World's Population, the Promise of Equality".

The report focuses on the plight of women across the globe. It found that in Egypt, 94 percent of women thought it was acceptable to be beaten, as did 91 percent in Zambia.

According to the report, women in Ethiopia face terrible hardship, with more than 25,000 women dying during childbirth each year and 50,000 facing disabilities during birth.

Only six percent of women have any kind of skilled help during their birth. Women also suffer higher levels of HIV infection than men and are less likely to enrol in schools - just 16 percent make it into secondary education, reports Reuters.

An estimated 529,000 women died from complications of pregnancy and childbirth in 2000, virtually all in developing countries.

For every woman who dies, roughly 20 more suffer serious injury or disability - between 8 million and 20 million a year.

Experts agree that the majority of maternal deaths are preventable through family planning to reduce unintended pregnancies, skilled attendance at all deliveries and timely emergency obstetric care in all cases where complications arise.

Executive director of UNFPA Thoraya Obaid said: "The problem is implementation and monitoring implementation.

"You have to spend more on healthcare and on looking after women.

"If women are healthy then they can jump start the life of their family and the economy."

She called for the "utterly immoral" gap between the reproductive health of rich and poor women to be closed.

"In no other area of health are the disparities between rich and poor so wide and the tragic consequences so utterly immoral," she told a news conference at the Foreign Press Association in London to launch a population report, informs BBC.