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Sun 17 Feb 2008 12:02 PM

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Bahraini violence victims fail to report abuse

Women aged 31 to 40 most likely to suffer in silence from spousal abuse, according to study.

More than 75% of Bahraini domestic violence victims did not report abuse until after 10 years of marriage, according to new research, Bahrain’s Gulf Daily News reported on Sunday.

The study results, which were revealed at a domestic violence conference in Bahrain on Saturday, also found that women aged 31 to 40, who have been married for six years or more are the most likely victims of domestic violence.

About 180 people from Bahrain, the GCC, Tunisia and the US are attending the conference, which examines the impact of domestic violence on women, families and society in the Bahraini, Arab and international context.

The study found that the main reason for women staying silent on domestic abuse was a fear of losing their family, or a feeling of powerlessness.

Banna Bu Zaboon, president of the Batelco Centre for Family Violence Victims in Bahrain, said the silence period was getting longer, which was causing damage within families.

"Because she keeps silent it affects her psychologically and socially...it's affecting them like a disease."

The study of 450 married and divorced women attending the Batelco Centre was conducted between August 2005 and May 2006.

The type of abuse included psychological (380), verbal (290) and physical (77), while 30 women were sexually abused.

The majority of women (259) had no formal income and less than a half (191) were employed outside the home.

Supreme Council for Women general-secretary Lulwa Awadhi told the conference participants that the judicial system didn't do enough to curb domestic violence and needed improvement.

The conference follows the establishment of the Dubai Women's and Children's Charity Foundation for victims of domestic violence and abuse last July.

Established by a new Dubai government law, the foundation offers assistance including shelter, health and psychological care to victims of abuse.

The charity also allows facilitates reintegration of victims into the society, and assistance with finding alternative sources of income.

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