Journal Article

Violence against women in South Asia: The need for the active engagement of the health sector

Intimate partner violence is pervasive in South Asia, yet married women's experiences regarding seeking help when faced with intimate partner violence and the health sector response remain largely unexplored. This commentary reviews the available published and unpublished literature and summarises what is known about the prevalence of marital violence against women and violence-related care-seeking experienced by women in this region. The commentary highlights that between one-fifth and one-half of married women are affected by violence perpetrated by their husband in South Asia, violence starts early in a marriage and the health consequences are wide ranging and long lasting. Yet, very few women seek support from the health sector, and the health system is not proactive in identifying and supporting women at risk. A greater commitment to making the health system responsive to women in distress is essential and should be undertaken with the same level of commitment given to prevention programmes.