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Drive Against Gender-Based Violence: Five Stories

UN-backed drive against gender-based violence spotlights 5 'underreported' stories

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is kicking off its second annual "16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence" campaign by spotlighting five stories - involving domestic violence in Russia, sex slavery in India, self-immolation in Central Asia, gender-based violence and HIV and 'compensation' marriages - it believes deserve more global media attention.

The 16 days run from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until 10 December, International Human Rights Day.

Approximately 14,000 women are murdered by their intimate partners annually in Russia, according to UNFPA, or one woman every 35 minutes - a yearly death toll comparable to the entire published number of Soviet troops killed during the decade-long conflict between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan.

In India, prenatal sex selection has lead to a surging demand for young women trafficked from lower castes and from abroad who are forced into veritable household sexual slavery, the agency said. Often referred to as Dipraudis, these women are sometimes compelled to service more than one man.

The proportion of HIV-infected women continues to overtake that of men annually. Women are two to five times more biologically susceptible to contracting HIV from a male partner, but gender-based violence - including coercion, wartime rape, 'widow cleansing,' domestic violence and female genital mutilation/cutting - also contributes to the soaring rates, UNFPA said.

The Fund cited research showing a rise in the numbers of women and girls practicing self-immolation in Northern Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as economic crises continue and many believe they have no way out.

Meanwhile, 'compensation' marriages - the practice of forcing a girl into arranged marriages as compensation for a murder perpetration by a family member, to repay debts or settle other disputes - is prevalent in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province, Afghanistan, parts of the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, UNFPA said, pointing out that girls in these situations often are systematically abused and becomes virtual slaves.


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