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Many women victims of gendercide

Categorized in these topics: Refugees War Women in Collaboration


UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 17, 2005 (Reuters) - There is a shortfall of some 200 million women in the world -- "missing' due to what a three-year study on violence against women calls "gendercide."

The number of what the study describes as 'missing' women is based on the random birthrate of males and females and how many fewer women there are than what would be expected in the world population, said Theodor Winkler, head of a research center that directed the project.

Winkler told a news conference at the United Nations on Thursday that gender-related abortions and infanticides were the leading causes for the shortfall in the female population. Another factor was domestic violence, including so-called honor killings in some cultures.

"We are confronted with the slaughter of Eve, a systematic gendercide of tragic proportions," Winkler wrote in the preface to the study, recently published as a book titled "Women in an Insecure World."

"There are dozens of ways women come to a grisly end," Winkler told U.N. reporters. "Obviously, human rights and the legal protection of women is of crucial importance but it is only one component. There is also a cultural change that must operate."

Winkler said violence against women was the fourth-leading cause of premature death on the planet, ranking behind only disease, hunger and war.

"It starts in the womb. There are societies where male births are preferred, particularly if the number of births are limited. That's where abortion for gender reasons starts," he said.

The book uses U.N., World Heath Organization and government reports and photographs to examine the plight of women.

It details statistics on rape, violence traced to forced marriages, prostitution and sex slavery. The book says that according to a study based on 50 surveys from around the world, "at least one out of every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime."

At least 700,000 women are sold into prostitution annually, the book added.

"The deeply rooted phenomenon of the violence against women is one of the great crimes of humanity. We cannot close our eyes to it and hope it simply goes away," Winkler said.

The book was produced by a committee formed by the Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces to be distributed to governments, academics and health practitioners.

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