At least one in three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or abused in some way, most often by someone she knows, says a United Nations report that decries ongoing prejudice against women.
Despite the tremendous gains of the 20th century, discrimination and violence against women and girls ``remain firmly rooted in cultures around the world,'' says the UN in its annual report on the State of World Population, released today.
`But all of us in the development community realize that, unless we make progress in gender equality, we can't make progress in any of these (other) areas.'
|- Alanna Armitage UN program officer
While many countries have started taking steps to protect women's rights, ``actual progress has been slow,'' the report says, chronicling a host of abuses:
Around the world, there are 80 million unwanted pregnancies, 20 million unsafe abortions, 500,000 maternal deaths and 333 million new sexually transmitted diseases each year. Adolescent girls are particularly at risk.
It won't be known until the report's official release how these abuse statistics were gathered.
Alanna Armitage, a UN program officer who is in Ottawa, found the number of deaths during childbirth ``still so shocking, especially since we know how to prevent it.''
The report is both optimistic and pessimistic, she said.
``We have come really far in some areas, like female genital mutilation, which we couldn't even speak about 10 years ago. Now six or seven countries have outlawed it.
``But all of us in the development community realize that, unless we make progress in gender equality, we can't make progress in any of these areas,'' she said.
The complete report can be read at http://www.unfpa.org/swp/swpmain.htm
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