New Report: Fighting Poverty in South Asia Means Ending Violence Against Women
Friday, September 26, 2014 8:50 AM

Violence against women and girls in South Asia is a serious problem that blocks economic and social progress in the region, according to a new World Bank report. The report gathered and analyzed data on violence suffered by women and girls throughout their lives, including intimate partner violence, child abuse, sexual harassment, honor crimes, and trafficking. Notably, South Asia is home to the world’s highest rates of elevated female mortality and child marriage. The report’s authors said, “This violence helps to keep women poor and stops developing economies from becoming more prosperous . . .This violence keeps women from being equal citizens.” 

According to the World Bank, the “human, social and financial costs” of violence against women will cause the region to miss key poverty reduction targets established by the U.N. Millennium Development Goals. The Bank's report, “Violence Against Women and Girls: Lessons from South Asia,” identified hundreds of organizations and initiatives across South Asia that are focused on ending violence against women. However, the report’s authors noted that many programs were uncoordinated and did not address well-known risk factors for violence. The report asks governments, international donors, the private sector, and civil society to increase awareness of the problem and work together for change. The World Bank stated, “Well-coordinated actions by a range of partners can make a huge difference.”

The World Bank released its report in Kathmandu on September 19, in coordination with Nepal’s National Women’s Commission. Experts and advocates who attended the event stated that existing laws in South Asia were “inadequate and ineffective” in protecting women from violence. The report follows a 2013 conference, also held in Kathmandu, that explored the “complexity, interconnectivity, scale and gravity of the issue of violence against women and girls in South Asia” and “how best to intensify efforts to address this pervasive regional problem.” The eight countries reviewed were Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Compiled from: South Asia should seize opportunity to end violence against women, World Bank Press Release (September 19, 2014); Violence keeps women poor, says World Bank, The eKantipur, (September 21, 2014).