The Cost of Violence Against Women

NEW YORK (MainStreet) —Nearly 60% of 1,053 women in Vietnam reported ever having experienced some form of intimate partner violence, according to a recent population survey. The widespread prevalence of at-home violence comes at an equivalently high price – totaling a productivity loss in 2010 equivalent to about 1.8% of the Southeast Asian country's total GDP, according to a U.N. commissioned report released in March.

The government of Vietnam is now responding to this report – the latest of a string of economic studies that try to place a price tag of the cost of violence against women – by launching a nationwide minimum intervention package for violence victims and survivors.

Nata Duvvury, a development expert at the National University of Ireland in Galway, who led and authored the Vietnam report, says the economic cost of these gender-based human rights violations should not be undermined.

“Violence against women has significant economic consequences,” Duvvury said. “What we have done over the last 30 years is we have just articulated clearly that it is a fundamental rights violation and a public health issue,” said Duvvury, who presented the report at a recent annual U.N. forum on gender rights.

“It is important to begin to demonstrate to lawmakers and finance ministers that if you don't address this issue there are significant consequences,” she said. “The cost of inaction can be a very powerful advocacy message.”

The Vietnam study found that out-of-pocket expenditures – health costs, like medical treatment and replacement of property were the most costly – amounted to significant earning losses for violence victims that alone equal 1.41% of the GDP in Vietnam, which stood at 2,536,000 billion VND (about $121 billion) in 2010.

Overall productivity losses – most often, women who experience violence miss paid work days and time away from household work – totaled 1.78% of Vietnam's GDP in 2010.