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POPE DECRIES THE EXPLOITATION AND VICTIMIZATION OF WOMEN

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Pope John Paul II lashed out Friday against the exploitation of women, preyed on as "mere objects of pleasure" and frequently the victims of violence.

In a statement, he affirmed that the right of women to participate in all areas of public life must be guaranteed, by law if necessary. But he said the public role of women should not detract "from their unique role within the family."John Paul recorded his views in his annual message for the World Day of Peace.

Referring to church opposition to abortion, John Paul called on society to protect "the indisputable right to life, which every person enjoys from the very moment of conception."

The pope lamented that some women are "victims of a materialistic and hedonistic outlook which views them as mere objects of pleasure, and does not hesitate to organize the exploitation of women, even of young girls, into a despicable trade."

He also deplored a "dramatic increase" of violence in the world.