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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs