One-in-four SL women experience IPV - UNFPA
The 2019 Women’s Wellbeing Survey has found that one in four (24.9 per cent) women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since age 15 by a partner or non-partner in Sri Lanka.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is the most common form of violence, impacting millions of women worldwide.
COVID-19 lockdown and travel restrictions have disrupted women’s access to life-saving sexual and reproductive health services and have further exacerbated the prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV).
The pandemic has also hampered authorities’ ability to respond to GBV, at a time when women and girls need these services the most- affecting the health and well-being of mothers and newborns.
Physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a spouse or partner is a major factor in maternal and reproductive health that could even lead to maternal mortality.
For example, women suffering from intimate partner violence are less likely to use or even have a say in using contraception, which could likely lead to unplanned pregnancies.
Beyond the physical trauma and sexual abuse, the mental health consequences are substantial and could contribute both directly and indirectly, to many negative maternal health outcomes including anxiety, panic attacks, depression, affecting both mother and baby.
To raise awareness on these inter-linkages, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sri Lanka once again partnered with Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) to organize a panel discussion on “The impact of SGBV on maternal and child health”.
The session built on the dialogue initiated during the plenary session at the 9th International Conference on Birth Defects and the previous SLMA session on the ‘Rights-based approach to delivering comprehensive SRH services for all in the new normal’ and explored the linkages between SGBV, maternal mortality and morbidity, child health, birth defects and disability in the COVID-19 context.
Sharika Cooray, Officer in Charge of UNFPA Sri Lanka stated “Given the overwhelming evidence on the linkages between SGBV and maternal and child mortality and morbidity, SGBV should be considered an urgent priority within programmes and policies aimed at maximizing the wellbeing and survival of women and children.”
Adding to this Dr Padma Gunaratne, President, SLMA stated “Gender-based violence is linked to many negative maternal health outcomes out of which the worse is maternal death. Although it is not accepted as a problem in general in Sri Lanka by many policymakers, there is much intimate partner violence among married and unmarried couples. Therefore, as the oldest National Medical Professional Association in Sri Lanka with a membership of over 4000 medical professionals, I feel it is our duty to speak out against any form of gender-based violence within or outside a relationship.”
A panel discussion followed, highlighting that rights and choices for all are a fundamental part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Meanwhile, the Colombo Municipal Council building was illuminated in orange with messaging on the national women’s helpline and Mithuru Piyasa hotline yesterday to place a spotlight on intimate partner violence and encourage more women to seek help.
The illumination launched 16 days of activism against gender-based violence in Sri Lanka with a focus on IPV.