…violence was continuation from pre-pregnancy period
…84 per cent reported an increase in the severity of violence during pregnancy

VIOLENCE during pregnancy is, directly and indirectly, detrimental to the health of both the child and the mother. Additionally, direct physical violence can injure both mother and foetus during physically vulnerable periods; indirectly, the physical manifestations of emotional stress during a period of physical stress increases the risk of negative outcomes; these are miscarriage, premature labour, haemorrhaging and antenatal death.

Violence during pregnancy also increases the foetal risk for intrauterine growth retardation, low birth weight and neonatal complications associated with these; this is according to a recently launched report on Guyana Women’s Health and Life Experiences.

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The survey was executed as a collaborative project between the government, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Women; the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); the Global Women’s Institute of George Washington University; the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); the University of Guyana (UG) and the Canadian Institute of Health Research.

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Meanwhile, in the post-partum period, inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) during pregnancy affects mother-child bonding and breastfeeding and contributes to post-partum depression and increases the risk of maternal suicide (World Health Organisation (WHO)-2011).

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The report further noted that the majority of women–about 97 per cent–who participated in the survey have been pregnant at least once and nearly one in 10 reported having experienced at least one act of violence during pregnancy.

Among women who experienced violence in pregnancy, the vast majority–92 per cent–reported violence during their most recent pregnancy; the violence was perpetrated by the child’s father, with 30 per cent targeting the pregnancy by punching or kicking her in the abdomen.

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For half of the women who have experienced violence during pregnancy, the violence is a continuation of pre-pregnancy violence with a substantial majority–84 per cent–reporting that the severity worsened by 57 per cent; or remained the same, 27 per cent, during pregnancy, the report added.

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Violence is defined as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person or against a group or community that either results in, or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, physical harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.

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The study used additional terms such as aggression or abuse to refer to such violence.

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