BEIRUT, Oct 4 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The United Nations called on Arab nations on Wednesday to calculate the economic cost of violence against women, in a bid to promote policy reform in a region where the issue is a taboo.
Only a handful of Arab states have laws that specifically tackle violence against women - be it marital rape, honour killings or incest, said the group, which was led by the U.N.'s agency on women.
"Many countries in the Arab region still see violence against women and deal with it as a private issue and not a public issue," said Mehrinaz Elawady of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
"Costing (the) violence would help the government and the state understand that ... it is not only affecting the abused woman, it is also affecting the entire economy," the director of ESCWA's Centre for Women told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Egypt used a model recommended by the U.N. to estimate in 2015 that gender-based violence cost it 2.17 billion Egyptian pounds ($123 million) a year.
There is no data on the scale of violence against women in the Arab world...It is obvious that the UN, in its woefully finite wisdom, is convinced that framing the problem in economic terms is the way to effect change. But if it fails to address the ingrained attitudes, borne of religion and culture, that relegate these women to a second class status, how can this "new" approach change anything?