News / Health

UN: Epidemic of Violence Against Women is Global

A pedestrian walks over an illustration to draw attention to domestic violence against women, on International Women's Day in central Istanbul, Turkey, in this March 8, 2013, file photo.A pedestrian walks over an illustration to draw attention to domestic violence against women, on International Women's Day in central Istanbul, Turkey, in this March 8, 2013, file photo.
x
A pedestrian walks over an illustration to draw attention to domestic violence against women, on International Women's Day in central Istanbul, Turkey, in this March 8, 2013, file photo.
A pedestrian walks over an illustration to draw attention to domestic violence against women, on International Women's Day in central Istanbul, Turkey, in this March 8, 2013, file photo.
Lisa Schlein
The World Health Organization says physical and sexual violence against women has reached epidemic proportions, affecting more than one-third of all women globally.  A new study just released by WHO shows violence against women is widespread and pervasive, cutting across different regions and all income levels in society. The data is part of a report just unveiled in Geneva.
 
The study finds one woman in three in the world will experience physical or sexual violence sometime during her lifetime by someone she knows - a husband, a boyfriend, a family member or friend. 
 
The report says women of all ages, young and old alike, are subject to violence. The World Health Organization calls violence against women widespread and pervasive. It says it is a global health problem of epidemic proportions. 
 
In an analysis of international homicide statistics, the study finds that a husband or a close partner is responsible for 38 percent of the murders of women worldwide.
 
Claudia Garcia-Moreno, lead specialist of Gender, Reproductive Rights, Sexual Health and Adolescence at WHO and one of the authors of the report, says physical and sexual violence against women takes a tremendous toll on the health of women. She says 42 percent of women beaten up by their partners suffer injuries. 
 
“Women who have experienced physical or sexual violence were two times more likely to be depressed or to have problems with alcohol use compared to women who have never experienced this violence. They were twice as likely to have had an abortion. They were one and one half times more likely to have had a sexually-transmitted infection and in some regions to be affected by HIV. And, they are also more likely to have low-birth-weight babies,” said Garcia-Moreno.

This is the first systematic study of global data on the prevalence of violence against women by both intimate partners and non-partners. The World Health Organization, in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council, has collected data from 81 countries in 2010.
 
The study finds the worst affected regions are Southeast Asia, the eastern Mediterranean region and Africa, where rates of violence against women from an intimate partner hover around 37 percent. For combined intimate partner and non-partner sexual violence, the data show Africa, with 45.6 percent, has the worst record, followed by Southeast Asia, with 40.2 percent. 
 
But the report dispels the notion that violence is a problem only in the developing countries. It shows 32.7 percent of physical and sexual violence against women occurs in high-income countries.

Intervention options

In addition to responding to women who are affected, Garcia-Moreno says measures are needed to stop the problem from happening in the first place. She highlights three areas of intervention.
 
“One is the prevention of child abuse and maltreatment. We know that children who are abused or who are exposed to their parents abusing each other are more likely to end up in an abusive relationship either as perpetrator or as victim…The second area is empowerment of women. Access to secondary education we know is protective, access to jobs, employment, other economical opportunities…The third area of intervention in terms of prevention is the issue of social norms. There are many countries in which this form of violence is seen as acceptable,” said Garcia-Moreno.  
 
The World Health Organization notes talking about violence against women is taboo in many countries, and so the abuse continues.  It says awareness and open discussion of the problem is key to prevention.
 
New WHO guidelines stress the importance of training all levels of health workers to recognize when women may be at risk of partner violence and to know how to deal with the problem. It says the enactment and implementation of more and better laws are necessary to curb violence against women.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs