Karachi, June 14 : When under a fit of aggression, men in Pakistan do not think twice before behaving violently with their pregnant wives, and completely ignore the health scare their wives may suffer because of constant beating and abuse, says a new study.
The study, entitled 'Consequences of domestic violence during pregnancy', by some students of the University of Karachi, revealed that many women who are verbally and physically abused by their aggressive husbands during their pregnancies have a greater risk of having low birth weight babies, miscarriages, abortions, premature labour and several other gynaecological disorders.
Conducted by Shakila A. Rehman and Mohammad Shahid, students of geography and social work departments of the KU, the study draws its data from a cross-sectional survey carried out on a sample of around 50 women in the age group of 20-39 years, in Madina Colony, a squatter settlement located in Gulshan-i-Iqbal.
With 52 per cent of the respondents complaining of verbal abuse and 36 per cent being subjected to physical torture at the hands of their husbands during pregnancy, the research revealed that incidents of physical violence was frequent scene during pregnancy, reports Dawn.com.
Over 50 percent of the respondents felt mentally tortured by the use of insulting and abusive language by their husbands. In fact, many women confessed that their husbands even pulled their hair or threw anything at them in a fit of anger. And in many instances, abusive husbands blackmailed their wives of marrying another women or leaving them if they give birth to a daughter.
Those who reported physical violence during pregnancy also admitted that their husbands were either drug addicts or unemployed and did not tolerate anything that they perceived offensive.
As far as sexual violence against such women is concerned, the study revealed that 30 per cent of the respondents admitted to being forced into having sex many times by their husbands during pregnancy.
In almost 20 percent of cases, where pregnant women were physically and verbally abused at the hands of their husbands, they maintained that their husbands also took care of them during the period, saying that the violent behaviour of their husbands didn't bother them as it was just a momentary trait.
Most of the women in the study complained of mental distress during pregnancy and even after childbirth. There were 20 per cent cases of premature birth and low birth weight babies. Four per cent reported miscarriage due to physical violence.
According to the report, verbal, physical and sexual violence against women increases the risks of many gynaecological disorders including chronic pelvic pain, irregular vaginal bleeding and discharge, painful menstruation and pelvic inflammatory diseases while it can also have a very harmful effect on women's mental health and also on a child's physiological and psychological development.
The study is published in the recently released Pakistan Journal of Gender Studies by the Centre of Excellence for Women's Studies, KU.