World Bank put focus on economic cost of domestic violence
The World Bank highlights the economic impact of domestic violence.
The World Bank is putting the spotlight on the economic cost of domestic violence.
On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women the Bank's gender and development director, Jeni Klugman, says domestic violence is not only an egregious abuse of human rights, but is also an economic drain.
She told Don Wiseman there is a need for a systemic response to prevent and address domestic violence and this would also reduce poverty and boost prosperity.
JENI KLUGMAN: Domestic violence and gender-based violence more generally a personal tragedy and a major health issue. But alongside that, it's important to recognise the economic losses which are imposed by violence. And those losses arise because women are less productive, they miss work. The absenteeism creates losses to firms and to employers, as well as the cost to health systems, to judicial systems, as well as to social services. So when you add these up, even quite conservative estimates come to the order 1.2 to 2% of GDP. Just to put that in perspective, that's broadly speaking what most developing countries spend on primary education, for example. So the trade-offs that are imposed by this in the context of scarce resources in most countries is really very large. So we wanted to highlight this to make the case or to buttress the case alongside social and rights aspects.
DON WISEMAN: The perpetrators of domestic violence, of course, won't care, so who are you trying to reach?
JK: We're trying to raise awareness firstly. And then we're also trying to buttress efforts and attention by national governments. Because it's important, as you mentioned, that there be systemic responses. Systemic responses happen at a number of levels. Firstly, it's having the appropriate legislation in place. Something like 600 million women still live in countries where domestic violence is not a crime. But having the legislation in place is not enough if those crimes are not being reported. So we know, for example, that a lot of women who suffer from violence don't' seek help. So for example in Timor-Leste, only about a quarter of women who've experienced violence seek help. 80% of women in Kiribati who suffer violence have never sought help for many services. So having the confidence in place for people to seek help is important. And then beyond that having a more proactive programme to reach out to provide programmes which seek to change attitudes, to change norms, so it becomes clear that the violence is unacceptable.
DW: The role that women play in developing countries, from an economic point of view, is well known and well documented. So in a lot of ways it's strange, isn't it, that governments and authorities have not come down more heavily on domestic violence so far?
JK: Well, in Australia, where I am at present, it's being called the country's 'darkest secret'. And I think it's something that wasn't publicly recognised, there's a lot of under-reporting. But the fact is that it's every country's dirty, dark secret, and the orders of magnitude are very large. We have authoritative estimates now from the World Health Organisation which is that over one-third of women, about 35% of women, suffer violence during their lifetime. And those figures rise as high as two out of three in the Solomon Islands so the orders of magnitude and the scale is really of epidemic proportions. But because so much of it is happening at home and behind closed doors it's really been hidden. That's why I think it's time to bring it to public attention and to mobilise action.
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