Time: At family planning and domestic violence clinics, researchers are attempting to explain the higher rates of unwanted pregnancy in relationships involving violence. What their studies have discovered is that "reproductive coercion," where women are often threatened with pregnancy by their partners or have their birth control destroyed, is preventable. The recent reserach shows that simply asking women who visit clinics specific questions about reproductive coercion and providing them with information and new birth control options, can drasitically lower the rates of pregnancy as well as encourage women to leave violent relationships.
"Researchers who work in family planning and with victims of domestic violence say women are often being threatened with pregnancy by their partners. "Reproductive coercion, as it's known, takes several forms. Partners may verbally or physically threaten women if they use birth control or seek abortions, or they may throw away or damage birth control and remove condoms during sex. It usually takes place within an already abusive relationship, especially those that are emotionally abusive.
"It's another way a male partner tries to control a female partner," says Elizabeth Miller, associate professor of pediatrics at the U.C. Davis School of Medicine, who has led much of what little research there is on the issue. "Women say their partner tells them he wants to leave a legacy or have them in his life forever.
Now, in her latest research, co-authored with Jay Silverman of the Harvard School of Public Health and others, Miller concludes that there may be a simple and cost-effective way to help women who are in danger of being intimidated into pregnancy. Simply asking women who visit family-planning clinics if their partner has ever tried to force them to get pregnant, and providing them with information on how to deal with it, can help spur women to get out of abusive relationships or take measures to protect themselves.
The pilot study, published online by Contraception, included about 900 patients, most of whom were ages 24 or younger, who visited four Northern California family-planning clinics between May 2008 and October 2009. Counselors and clinicians at two of the clinics were trained to ask women about reproductive coercion. (Questions included, Has your partner tried to force you to become pregnant when you didn't want to be? Does your partner mess with your birth control? and Does your partner refuse to use condoms when you ask?) Women who responded "yes" to any question were offered advice on tamper-proof methods of pregnancy protection, including IUDs and Depo-Provera shots, and given emergency contraception. At the two other clinics, women were simply offered standard domestic-violence and sexual-assault screening. (See "The Abortion Battleground: Crisis Pregnancy Centers.")
At the sites where advice on contraception was offered, the odds of subsequent pregnancy coercion dropped by 70%; there was no change at the other two clinics. Moreover, it seemed that the probing about coercive reproduction served as a wake-up call to some women. "In the intervention clinics, women were 60% more likely to have left a relationship because it felt unsafe," says Miller."
CNN: Domestic violence is on the rise in Turkey, as over 42 percent of women reported being the victim of physical and/or sexual abuse by their partners. Lack of comprehensive laws, shelters for women add to the problem--often putting the women back in the hands of their abusers.
"In fact, according to a 2009 Turkish government report, 42 percent of women surveyed said they had been the victims of either physical or sexual abuse by their husband or partner. The report concluded that one in four married Turkish women had been injured by partner violence. Meanwhile, one in ten Turkish women were injured by such violence while pregnant.
Some Turkish activists fear the real statistics for violence against women may actually be much higher.
"In all domestic surveys there are 'shadow figures.' That is because women are not willing to tell about the violence, it's a very sensitive issue," says Pinar Ilkkaracan, a co-founder of the Istanbul-based group Women for Women's Human Rights.
"We think it's much higher than 42 percent."
Domestic violence against women is not confined to economically-depressed, rural regions of eastern Turkey. According to the Turkish government survey, the statistics for physical and sexual assault were roughly the same in the countryside as in the most developed, fast-growing cities in the western part of the country.
Over the past 15 years, Turkey has adopted several progressive pieces of legislation to protect women, including a 1998 Protection Order against Domestic Violence. Reform of Turkey's Civil Code in 2001 gave women legal equal status to men in the family.
Meanwhile, changes to the country's Penal Code in 2004 criminalized marital rape. But critics argue that the Turkish state has lapsed far behind in implementing these laws."
Lucinda Marshall is the Director of the Feminist Peace Network (FPN) which she founded in December, 2001 as a virtual ‘room of our own’ where women concerned about how the impending U.S. invasion of Afghanistan (and later Iraq) would impact women’s lives could share their thoughts and ideas for action in a safe, supportive space. While initially focusing on militarism, the network, with participants from around the world, has expanded its vision to also address what Marshall calls the other terrorism, the systemic global pandemic of violence against women.
NCRW asked leading research and policy expert Linda Tarr-Whelan to weigh in on the status of CEDAW. In addition to her responses, below is an excerpt from a previously published commentary from Linda featured on Women’s eNEws and The Huffington Post.
On Dec. 18, 1979, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, or CEDAW, making it a watershed day for women around the globe.
In those heady days, I was deputy assistant to President Jimmy Carter for women's concerns. We expected speedy action after he sent the treaty to the Senate.
New York Times: The Violence Against Women Act will now cover same sex couples. The Justice Department has concluded that the law may be used in same sex cases involving stalking and domestic violence.
Reuters: Children of mothers who are abused by their partners are at an increased risk for obesity and developing health related conditions, such a diabetes, cancer and heart disease. New studies show that adversities early in life create long lasting emotional and health issues.
New York Times: Eight women interviewed by the The New York Times shared the trauma they endured when members of the New York City Police Department "played down, misclassified or ignored their complaints of being sexually assaulted."