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UN hears data on teen mums’ risk of partner violence

United Nations member states and entities have heard findings on the relationship between the risk of Australian women experiencing domestic violence and the age they were when they had their first child.

Professor Gita Mishra from The University of Queensland attended the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, held at the UN in New York, and co-hosted a side event with the Australian Government.

Mishra said data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH) indicates that intimate partner violence affects women of all cultures, occupations and education levels in Australia, but a couple of groups are particularly vulnerable.

“Of women who report having experienced intimate partner violence by the age of 40, more than a third had their first child before the age of 25,” Mishra said.

Eleven percent of women who experienced intimate partner violence were teenage mothers, she said, adding this is five times the percentage of other women. “Young mothers are clearly at risk of either having suffered intimate partner violence previously or [going] onto experience intimate partner violence later in life."

Mishra said health services used by these women during pregnancy may be a useful platform for prevention strategies.

“Forty-five per cent of ALSWH women who experienced intimate partner violence only had high school education or lower, compared to 16 per cent with a university degree or higher,” Mishra said. “Education is the key when it comes to empowering women and preventing violence against them, and it is fitting that we report back on what leading women’s studies are telling us.”

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