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One In Three Women Will Suffer Abuse, Says Amnesty International - 2004-03-05

Amnesty International says one out of three women in the world will suffer serious abuse in her lifetime. The human rights group is launching a campaign to stop violence against women.

Amnesty International says, each year, millions of women are raped, beaten and assaulted.

At the organization's London launch of the Stop Violence Against Women campaign, China Keitetsi old her very personal story of rape and misery as a child soldier in Uganda. For Ms. Keitetsi, and any others like her, the physical and psychological scars will last for a lifetime.

"When I look back, I feel sad, because I would be very happy, if I could sit and have a cigarette with ne of my comrades, or one of the girls that I saw dying of AIDS, dying from abortion. And at the end, hey were taken to a camp called Women's Wing, because they told us that we are shaming the image of he army, and it was forbidden to carry our children having a military uniform on."

Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan says China Keitetsi's story is not uncommon.

She says violence against women is ever present in war and in peace, in the developing and in the developed world.

"Violence in the home and violence in war are the two pillars of Amnesty International's campaign. Exposing the most private as well as the most public face of a cancer that is eating away at the heart of every society and every country in the world."

Ms. Khan says violence against women is a problem everywhere.

"It is not something that just happens over there. It happens here. It is not something that just happens to someone else. It happens to us, to our families, to our friends."

Amnesty International estimates that about two-million girls around the world will suffer from genital mutilation this year alone, thousands of women will die as a result of so-called honor killings, and others will be beaten or raped all over the world.

Ms. Khan says all segments of the society are to blame.

"This report shows that governments turn a blind eye to violence against women, and allow impunity to flourish. ... This report exposes the way in which community and religious leaders re-inforce roles, attitudes and customs, which seek to subjugate and subordinate women, and establish control over their lives and their bodies, and perpetuate violence."

Amnesty International says it wants to see individual countries held more accountable in preventing, investigating, punishing and redressing acts of violence against women. It is also calling for the elimination of laws that discriminate against women.

Ms. Khan says violence against women is not normal, legal or acceptable, and it must be stopped.