Violence Against Women Costing $6.9 Billion Annually

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According to a research in the University of British Columbia, even after women have left their abusive partners and separated, the violence still costs about $6.9 billion annually. The leader of the research, Professor Colleen Varcoe, of the UBC Nursing, and his team of researchers is the first to determine the socioeconomics of the services that abused women avail when they leave their partners.

Generally, the per capita expense that women incur annually is about $13,162 across health and non-health sectors and agencies, as well as including both government and private services. This rough estimate is inclusive of the social services, health care expenses as well as litigation fees.

According to Varcoe, the study makes it clear that leaving an abusive spouse is not a one-fits-all solution to marital problems. “What our findings make clear is that ‘leaving’ is not a panacea,” Varcoe said, stressing that leaving decreases, but does not end the cost of violence to the system.

“In pointing out the economics of violence,” noted Varcoe, “we are also showing the human costs which are incalculable. As a society, we must do a better job of prevention, early detection and support for women at risk to violence.”

The research was able to analyze the classifications of cost the public funds and the services that include hospitalization, X-Rays, clinical check-ups and consultations, welfare worker for the child, unemployment insurance and social assistance, as well as legal fees. Private expenses are also included in this estimation, e.g. psychiatric services, dental services, counseling and food bank use.

“We found that food banks account for a staggering 80 per cent of the non-health, private, third-party costs, which in this case are borne by charitable organizations,” says Varcoe.

Varcoe also noted that there is a dramatic number of ER visits and medical consultations. After analyzing the data from ER visits, the researchers have estimated that women who have left their homes and partners visited the ER at least 24 times each month costing about $180 per visit, as compared to those women who have a normal marital situation who visit at least once a month, in an average. Physician consultation is also recorded at 1.9 visits each month compared to the norm of 0.37 visits monthly.

Data were collected from about 309 women who have left their family home and spouses for the past three years. These women from British Columbia, Ontario and New Brunswick were interviewed each year for five years.

In able to figure out the costs due to violence, the team compared the abused women’s utilization of services to those women of similar age but are part of the women norm. They also made use of raw statistical findings about the number of women in Canada affected by partner violence. According to the 2006 census, there were 10.3 million women in Canada aged 19-65. About one in ten – 1.3 million women – were legally separated or divorced, and not living with a partner.

Says Varcoe, “the study signals an urgent need for better coordination of responses that integrate health, social services, justice, education, and corporate sectors, and services oriented long beyond the immediate crisis of leaving.”

 

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