Physical and sexual abuse affects 40 percent of women

Physical and sexual abuse affects 40 percent of women
Photo: DPA
An estimated 40 percent of all German women will be physically or sexually abused in their lifetime, the Robert Koch Institute reported on Thursday.

Presenting the findings at a two-day symposium in Bonn, Health Ministry official Marion Caspers-Merk said disabled and elderly women, as well as young girls, are especially at risk for such abuse.

“Violence is all too often a taboo theme,” Caspers-Merk said, adding that violence as a health risk is often underestimated.

The institute also found almost every fourth woman has been sexually or physically abused in a relationship.

Meanwhile, 74 percent of women suffering from drug and alcohol addiction have reported experience with abuse. Effects included depression, panic attacks, nervousness, physical ailments and grave complications with child birth.

The study, which analyzed a collection of German and European data, found that two-thirds of women who were victims of physical violence were abused with weapons or suffered severe physical assault.

German doctors and emergency rooms deal with the consequences of violence against women every day, Caspers-Merk said, adding that genital mutilation is becoming more of an issue in the country too.

Such violence affects all of German society, and not just the lower social strata, she said.

But doctors, caregivers and midwives often have direct contact with female victims of violence, though many are not properly trained to diagnose the problem. They should look for warning signs – such as specific injuries and partners who refuse to leave their side, she concluded.