in brief: one third of women are victims of domestic violence
A World Health Organisation study has shown that thirty percent of women worldwide are victims of domestic violence. The report also found that forty percent of women killed worldwide were slain by an intimate partner.
The head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, called it ‘a global health problem of epidemic proportions.’
WHO defined physical violence as being slapped, pushed, punched, choked or attacked with a weapon. Sexual violence was defined as being physically forced to have sex, having sex for fear of what the partner might do and being compelled to do something sexual that was humiliating or degrading.
For domestic violence figures, scientists analyzed information from 86 countries focusing on women and teens over the age of 15. The report was based largely on studies from 1983 to 2010.
The study also reported that between 20-75% of women across all the countries involved in the study were at one point victims of emotional abuse by a partner. WHO found that this form of abuse was frequently considered more devastating than physical violence. Emotional abuse includes being insulted or made to feel bad about oneself, being intimidated or scared on purpose, and being threatened with harm. Most of the women who had experienced this abuse had done so in the last 12 months.
In ten of the fifteen settings, over 5% of women reported that their first experience of sexual intercourse was forced. The figure was 14% or more in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, provincial Peru, and the United Republic of Tanzania.
The report made a number of recommendations as a result of the findings. These include:
- promote gender equality and women’s human rights
- establish, implement, and monitor action plans to address violence against women
- enlist political, church, and community leaders in speaking out against violence against women
- enhance and establish systems to monitor violence against women
- develop programs aimed at primary prevention of intimate partner violence against women
- prioritize prevention of sexual abuse of children
- make physical environments safer for women
The WHO blamed taboos that prevent victims from coming forward, failings in medical and justice systems, and norms that mean men and women may see violence as acceptable, as reasons for the findings.