Nearly a million pregnant Pakistani women may have been physically abused at least once by their partners, reckons an expert.
Prof Unaiza Niaz , president of the Women Section of World Psychiatric Associations, said that in Pakistan, societal attitudes and norms, as well as cultural practices like Karo Kari and Vani, severely affected women's mental health.
She said that physically abused women were more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress-related syndromes.
Moreover, they were dependent on psychotropic medications and substance use.Suicide were other mental health problems associated with violence in women's lives.
Prof Niaz said that negative effects of globalisation and economic reforms on public health had hit women harder than men.
More than one billion people, mostly women, are living in extreme poverty and the change in the trend makes few experts feel the onset of 'feminization' of poverty, the News quoted her as saying.
She said that religious and ethnic conflicts, along with the dehumanising attitude towards women, the extended family system, and role of in-laws, represented major issues and stressors.
Gender discrimination at each stage of the female life cycle contributes to health disparity, sex selective abortions, neglect of girl children, reproductive mortality, and poor access to healthcare for girls and women, Niaz added.
The risk of depression in women was higher during the childbearing years and even after childbirth.