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'Skewed sex ratio leads to household sexual slavery in India'

November 28, 2007 11:42 IST

Pre-natal sex selection in India is leading to skewed sex ratios resulting in a greater demand for young women trafficked from lower castes and abroad, who are then forced into household sexual slavery, a United Nations body has said.

In households that cannot afford more than one woman, she is often referred to as a 'Draupadi' and is sometimes forced to provide sexual service not only to her husband, but also his brothers and male relatives, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has said.

The UNFPA highlights the five areas relating to gender-violence during its second annual '16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence' which began on November 25, International Day for Violence Against Women.

To date, researchers estimate that there are between 40 and 50 million 'missing' girlchildren who were never born because they were either aborted or killed soon after birth.

Domestic violence in Russia, self-immolation in Central Asia and Pakistan, gender-based violence and "compensation marriages" are the other areas on group's agenda. Approximately 14,000 women are murdered by their intimate partners annually in Russia, says UNFPA.

The proportion of HIV-infected women continues to overtake that of men annually. Women are two to five times more susceptible to contracting HIV from a male partner, but gender-based violence -- like coercion, wartime rape, 'widow cleansing', domestic violence and female genital mutilation -- also contributes to the soaring rates, it said.

It cited research showing a rise in the numbers of women and girls practising self-immolation in Northern Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Compensation marriages, the practice of forcing a girl into arranged marriages as compensation, is prevalent in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province, Afghanistan, West Asia and Africa, it said.

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