India tops the list of countries where adolescent girls are subjected to sexual violence by an intimate partner, says a report ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ released by the United Nations Children’s Fund on Friday.
According to the report, 77 per cent of girls aged 15 to 19 years in India have experienced sexual violence at least once in the form of forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts by their husband or partner.
In India, about 41 per cent reported physical violence by their mothers/stepmothers while 18 per cent were abused by fathers or stepfathers. Brother and sisters were the perpetrators in 25 per cent cases. Most adolescent girls who are victims of sexual violence also report physical abuse and, in India, that number stands between 10 to 20 per cent.
The report states that among married girls who experienced physical violence since age 15, a current or a former partner was cited most often in all of the countries. The proportion is over 70 per cent in India. But girls who were not married were most likely to report physical violence at the hands of family members, friends/acquaintances and teachers.
The study also found a correlation between violence and still births. Citing a study conducted in Uttar Pradesh, the report found that infants born to women who experienced partner violence during pregnancy faced double the risks for perinatal and neonatal mortality than infants born to women who did not experience such violence.
The authors concluded that approximately one-fifth of stillbirths and deaths during the first month of a newborn’s life might possibly have been prevented if partner violence had not occurred during pregnancy.
Child marriages also put women at a greater risk for intimate partner violence the report says. Again citing a research study in India and Nepal, it says women who were married off before turning 18 experienced increased risk of both current and lifetime physical and sexual violence by a partner.