Worldwide epidemic of violence against women

A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other groups says that more than one in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence.

38% of all women murdered were killed by their partners and such violence is a major contributor to depression and other health problems, according to the report.

Head of the WHO, Margaret Chan said that violence against women is a ‘global health problem of epidemic proportions’.

The study says that new guidelines are needed to be adopted by health officials around the world to prevent abuse and offer better protection to victims.

The report looked at partner and non-partner abuse and was released by the WHO, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council.

The authors say that this is the first systematic study of global data which details the impact of abuse on both the physical and mental health of women and girls.

The key findings are:

  • Violence by an intimate partner is the most common type of abuse. It affects 30% of women across the globe
  • 38% of all women murdered were killed by their partners
  • 42% of women physically or sexually abused by partners had injuries as a result
  • Victims of non-partner attacks were 2.6 times more likely to experience depression and anxiety compared with women who had not experienced violence
  • Those abused by their partners were almost twice as likely to have similar problems
  • Victims were more likely to have alcohol problems, abortions and acquire sexually transmitted diseases and HIV

Nicola Whitley, head of Swain & Co.’s domestic violence department says, “This is yet more evidence to support the need for investment in prevention of violence against women, and also to address under reporting of the abuse.”

“Creating awareness and providing support for the victims of violence is essential.”