An international conference on domestic violence against women took place in London on Tuesday 2nd December. Experts and policy makers from twenty different countries hope to share ideas on how to deal with the problem. This report from Rachel Ellison:
Domestic violence is a worldwide problem, which cuts across social, economic and class barriers. Social workers, magistrates and women's agencies from around the world have been invited by the British government to share their knowledge and experience of how to reduce violence in the home. One project in Zimbabwe takes drama workshops into primary and secondary schools. These have helped to change cultural attitudes.
In many countries, domestic violence is seen as a private matter that should remain behind closed doors. Another scheme in Ghana - where according to non governmental organisation statistics, one in three women suffer domestic violence - has succeeded in changing the lives of women in three rural communities. A pilot study has seen tribal chiefs agree to the training of local community teams, who counsel women and have their violent husbands arrested.
These are models British policy makers hope to learn from. Here, one in four women are likely to be physically or psychologically abused by their current or ex-partners. According to the charity Womankind, by the time a woman goes to the police, she'll have been hit, on average, 35 times. Last year there were more than 6 million reported incidences of violence in the home in Britain. The British government is tabling new legislation which aims to prevent domestic violence, and offer women better protection within the legal system, to help them if they are attacked.