New U.S. Legislation to Address WHO Study Findings
Tuesday, June 13, 2006 9:15 AM

A study released last year by the World Health Organization (WHO) entitled Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women caught the attention of congressional leaders in May. The study, which was based on 24,000 interviews with women from countries around the world, found that one-fifth to three-quarters of women have been inflicted with physical or sexual violence since age 15 by male partners.

The study placed particular emphasis on domestic abuse, or intimate partner violence. This particular type of abuse has far-reaching affects both physical and psychological on the victim, from HIV/AIDS to increased vulnerability. Research found that a woman’s partner presents her greatest risk of violence, and due to social norms that justify abuse, many women do not seek out the formal support they need.

A congressional briefing on the study was co-sponsored by Family Violence Prevention Fund, Global Health Council, and PATH. The organizations placed an emphasis on the need for an effort to combat domestic violence internationally. Members of Congress, such as Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) stepped up to the task and voiced their support for addressing the problem.

At the briefing, participating Members of Congress were urged by the co-sponsors to support an international Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) which is due to be introduced next year. The law would commit the U.S. Government to working for the end of violence again women on an international level. The legislation focuses not only on women’s health but also economic conditions and social norms, and it involves men and religious leaders. Existing programs will be the foundation of the new legislation will incorporate additional components including increased access to education, insuring women’s access to reproductive health services, training judges and judicial officials, and improving women’s property rights.

Compiled from: "A Call To Action: New Legislation Will Address Findings From WHO Study," Family Violence Prevention Fund, 9 June 2006;, Accessed 12 June 2006.