Violence, Against Women at Epidemic Proportions, Says WHO

In what would come as a shocker to human civilisation, one third of all women globally undergo physical or sexual violence, causing a global health problem of epidemic proportions, a report by World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

The report said that 35 percent of women experience violence by either intimate partner or non-partner. Surprisingly, violence by intimate partners is the most common type of violence against women, affecting 30 percent of women worldwide.

The study found out that 38 percent of all murdered women were killed by their intimate partners, and 42 percent of women who have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of a partner had experienced injuries as a result.

The impact of violence on women ranges from broken bones to pregnancy-related complications, mental problems and impaired social functioning, according to the study.

"These findings send a powerful message that violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions," said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, WHO. "We also see that the world's health systems can and must do more for women who experience violence."

Women face health complications like depression, alcohol use problems, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancy and abortion and low birth-weight babies because of violence committed against them.

"This new data shows that violence against women is extremely common. We urgently need to invest in prevention to address the underlying causes of this global women's health problem," said Professor Charlotte Watts, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

"The report findings show that violence greatly increases women's vulnerability to a range of short- and long-term health problems; it highlights the need for the health sector to take violence against women more seriously," said Dr Claudia Garcia-Moreno of WHO. "In many cases this is because health workers simply do not know how to respond."

The study - Global and regional estimates of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence, carried out by WHO in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council, highlights the need for all sectors to engage in eliminating tolerance for violence against women and better support for women who experience it.

[More information]     [Report]