updated 5 Jan 2011, 19:56
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Sun, Jan 31, 2010
The Straits Times
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9% of women have faced abuse: Survey
by Kimberly Spykerman

THE rate of sexual and physical abuse of women here was found to be the lowest among 12 countries in a recent survey, but the number abused is still alarming, say social service professionals.

The International Violence Against Women Survey, developed by global bodies including the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, was conducted here last year by the Society Against Family Violence (SAFV) and the National University of Singapore.

The random poll of about 2,000 women aged between 18 and 69 found about 9 per cent had experienced some form of violence in their lifetime - significantly lower than their counterparts in the Czech Republic, Australia and the Philippines.

Of these, about half had been abused more than once. Also, almost 3 per cent of the women, in particular those aged between 30 and 39 and with tertiary education, had experienced episodes of violence in the past 12 months.

'If you look at the population statistics, there are about 1.3 million women in this age group. So imagine 2.6 per cent of that works out to about 34,000 women... and this could be only the tip of the iceberg,' said Associate Professor Chan Wing Cheong of NUS' Faculty of Law yesterday, at a discussion involving over 20 social service professionals.

The survey found these women had usually endured being:

# Threatened with physical hurt;

# Pushed, grabbed, their arms twisted or hair pulled;

# Slapped, kicked, bitten or hit.

The most common form of sexual violence was non-consensual sexual contact.

Prof Chan added that while cases of abuse come to light via hospital records and applications for personal protection orders, many cases go unreported. More than 70 per cent of the victims polled did not go to the police.


If you are a victim of dating violence, you can seek help from the following places:

Centre for Promoting Alternatives to Violence (PAVe): 6555 0390

Safe@Trans: 6449 9088

Family Service Centre Helpline: 1800 838 0100

Samaritans of Singapore: 1800 221 4444

The social service sector has recently reported slight surges in the number of women who have come forward citing incidents of abuse. The Centre for Promoting Alternatives to Violence noted a doubling in the number of tertiary-educated women seeking help in recent years.

Family and marital therapist Benny Bong, who is also SAFV president, said social workers need to help their clients understand there is a range of options available to abused women, on top of going to the police for help.

[email protected]

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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