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U.N. STUDY FINDS EQUAL RIGHTS ARE A MYTH FOR MOST OF THE WORLD'S WOMEN

Women the world over get a raw deal in comparison to men, whether through physical abuse, double standards or discrimination, the United Nations said Wednesday.

In its annual report, the United Nations Population Fund said that rape, abuse and bad laws are just some of the barriers oppressing women, with no country free of prejudice.

According to the report, at least one in three women has been beaten, raped, coerced into sex or abused in some way -- usually by someone she knows.

Whether it is contraception in Japan or education in Pakistan, women remain the world's second-class citizens.

"Discrimination and violence against women and girls remain firmly rooted in cultures around the world, and I feel sick that I have to justify why girls should be educated. They are half the population of the world. It's their right," Nafis Sadik, the population fund's executive director, told Reuters in an interview.

But Sadik, a doctor by training, said attacking men was the easy option, and the modern solution to the age-old problem was to get men involved in the global fight for women's equality.

"The rhetoric against men is easy. But we also have to find a way to work on them and with them," she said.

"We must find good partners, those men in communities, religious groups, at the national level, who do want to change and find ways to support them. Men need help, too."

But not as much as women.

According to the annual report on the state of the population, "Lives Together, Worlds Apart," everything from health care to human rights lags when it comes to women. It said:

One woman dies every minute from complications of childbirth and pregnancy.

In the United States, a woman is battered every 15 seconds.

Sexually transmitted diseases afflict five times more women than men, with an estimated 333 million new cases a year.

At least 60 million girls who would otherwise be alive are "missing" from the global population because of sex-selective abortions, neglect and infanticide.

Sadik said parts of Africa were the worst places to be born female.

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