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03 JUN 2009

Domestic violence in rural areas 'a hidden issue'

Women living in rural areas are suffering as much violence as those in towns and cities but are less likely to think that it is happening in their community according to new research launched today by the National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI).

The research highlights that almost three quarters of women agree that violence against women is hidden and not discussed openly in their community, contributing to the sense of shame that stops survivors speaking out. It also uncovered that emotional and psychological abuses are among the most prevalent forms of abuse, with many respondents saying that it has as big an impact on women as physical abuse.

The NFWI will call for a public information campaign to raise awareness about the prevalence of violence against women and for training for GPs in rural areas to help them identify women affected by violence at their AGM today at the Royal Albert Hall.

NFWI Chair Fay Mansell said: "Despite its frequency the research suggests violence against women continues to be a hidden issue. Many victims do not speak out due to fear and shame. We want people in all communities to acknowledge that violence is there and takes many forms - not just physical abuse.

"Public awareness campaigns have been successful in the past, most notably in changing attitudes towards drink-driving. It is now time the government launched a campaign to end violence against women. This must be honest, and show that violence against women can affect any woman from any background and also be realistic by showing the many forms it can take."

More than five thousand WI members are expected to attend this year's AGM with guest speaker actor and columnist Maureen Lipman.

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