Children of Violence: Abused Women, Abused Children

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Imagine a world in which three to four million people are suddenly struck by a serious, recurring illness. There is chronic pain, trauma and injury. Authorities fail to draw any connection between individual bouts with the disease and the greater public threat. Many suffer in silence” -Joseph R. Biden, former chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee describing his own country, the United States of America; the “disease” is domestic violence.

It has been roughly estimated that 1 woman in 3 has been beaten, forced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime around the globe. The implications of this are insurmountable, after all women are representatives of creative principles. Recently in the news, there has been a an article that barely touches the tip of the iceberg of this problematic.

Violence Against Women Impairs Children’s Health

Sep. 15, 2008)

Violence against women in a family also has serious consequences for the children’s growth, health, and survival. Kajsa Åsling Monemi from Uppsala University has studied women and their children in Bangladesh and Nicaragua and shows, among other things, that children whose mothers are exposed to violence grow less and are sick more often than other children.

Kajsa Åsling Monemi, paediatrician, the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, monitored more than 3,000 children in Bangladesh from the women’s pregnancy tests till when the children were two years old. The study shows that children to women exposed to some form of violence had lower birth weights and grew less as infants and toddlers. They also got sick more often than other children with diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia.

“Both in Bangladesh and Nicaragua deaths before the age of five were more common among children whose mothers had been exposed to violence than among children of women who had never been subjected to violence,” she reports.

According to Kajsa Åsling Monemi, there are several possible explanations for why violence against a mother can affect her children’s health. During pregnancy the fetus grows less, and after birth the mother’s mental health is crucial both for her emotional contact with the children and for her ability to care for the children. What’s more, women who have been subjected to violence often have weaker social networks and often lack economic resources to seek medical care for their children, for example. This means that the children’s health is dependent on the economic resources and the protection that the environment can offer.

“My studies indicate that the health consequences of violence against women within the family in a global perspective are greater than we previously knew,” says Kajsa Åsling Monemi.

The Doctoral thesis is entitled, The Impact of Violence Against Women on Child Growth, Morbidity and Survival: Studies in Bangladesh and Nicaragua.

I’m sure this is not an exclusive problem of third world countries. In the US, one woman is physically abused every eight seconds and one is raped every six minutes. Spouse abuse is more common in the US than automobile accidents, mugging, and cancer deaths combined, according to a 1992 US Senate Judiciary Committee report. That was 16 years ago – updated statistics might be much worse.

Rape, mutilation, beatings, murder… Women have been, are, and will be often victims of violence in this world gone mad.

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