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Healthline Connects

Violence Against Pregnant Women - How Do We Protect the Vulnerable?

Another pregnant soldier is dead. The story of Spc. Megan Lynn Touma grabs the headlines, but what most of us fail to realize is that murder is the leading cause of death in pregnant women. We think that only women who are already victims of domestic violence are going to be subjected to continued abuse when pregnant. While it's true that violence can escalate against women who are already battered once they are pregnant, sometimes abuse begins while a woman is pregnant.

Violence against pregnant women can be mental, physical or sexual. It seems hard to believe, but a new baby can be perceived as a threat to a jealous man who does not want his partner's time and attention monopolized. An insecure man may feel threatened by the attention others, including health care providers, are giving to the pregnant woman.

Women are at their most vulnerable when pregnant and violence against women is an exertion of power over them. Women and their unborn children are in need of special vigilance and protection from families, communities and societies. Pregnancy may threaten a man's sense of being the primary person in a family.
Men feel stress and frustration over the pregnancy, especially if it is unintended or unwanted. That frustration may be directed at the pregnant woman and unborn baby. The risk of violence is even higher for pregnant teens.

Violence against pregnant women puts two lives at risk. The belly, breasts and genitals are often targets of abuse. The problem is not limited to the US. Gender-based violence is rampant especially with the refugee population at an all time high. Women and girls are vulnerable targets and pregnant Sudanese women have not been spared rape and gang rape as a means or brutal control and subjugation. The Global Health Council cites reports from
China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, India, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Calling the problem a "global health crisis", they report the prevalence of abuse during pregnancy is 3.4 percent to 11.0 percent in industrialized countries and between 3.8 percent and 31.7 percent in developing countries.

Thank you Bradley Wind for use of image Pregnant Woman.

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