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Domestic violence results in huge costs for economy

Sunday, 24 Nov 2013 | 11:59 PM ET
Economic effects of domestic violence
Sunday, 24 Nov 2013 | 8:54 PM ET
Jeni Klugman, Director of Gender and Development at the World Bank outlines the economic drain that results from domestic violence against women

While domestic violence is a serious human rights violation that impacts millions of women worldwide, it also has substantial economic consequences, new research from the World Bank Group (WBG) shows.

According to the WBG, domestic abuse imposes an economic burden on individuals, households, private businesses and the public sector through the cost of healthcare services used to treat victims, a loss of productivity and reduced income for women due to missed work.

"Employed women experiencing violence are often subject to a range of interference tactics by their partner undercutting their ability to maintain regular employment. Some of the tactics undermining efforts to get to work, [such as] hiding or stealing keys or transportation money, and not showing up to care for children," the report said.

(Read more: What should you say when you think someone is being abused?)

"Experiencing IPV [intimate partner violence] is thus associated with increased absenteeism over the long term and presenteeism in the short term through tardiness, not showing up for work, and use of sick days as well as problems with concentration, job performance, and productivity," it added.

The research estimates the productivity loss due to absenteeism caused by domestic violence in Uganda and Bangladesh, for example, was $87.76 million and $262 million, respectively in 2012. This is equivalent to almost 1.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for both countries.

Juanmonino | E+ | Getty Images

In Bangladesh, the loss is equivalent to nearly 60 percent of what is spent on education and 40 percent of what is spent on health.

(Read more: An oil town where men are many, and women are hounded)

"This underscores that the loss due to domestic violence is a significant drain on an economy's resources. Addressing this challenge head-on promises to significantly advance our efforts to end extreme poverty and increase prosperity for all," said Jeni Klugman, Gender and Development Director at the WBG - which is a group of five international organizations that make leveraged loans to poor countries.

In the U.S., meanwhile, the cost of domestic abuse exceeds $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion for direct medical and health care services and nearly $1.8 billion for productivity losses, according to the United Nations.

(Read more: Study finds women with young kids earn less than men)

November 25 marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The date was chosen to commemorate the Mirabal sisters -three political activists that were ordered to be brutally assassinated by Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo in 1960.

More than one-third of women worldwide experience gender-based violence over the course of their lives, according to the World Health Organization.

—By CNBC's Ansuya Harjani; Follow her on Twitter: @Ansuya_H

Contact World Economy

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