WHO Launches its First Global Study on Domestic Violence Against Women
Sunday, December 4, 2005 1:40 PM

Domestic Violence and sexual violence against women are "common, widespread and far-reaching," says a World Health Organization (WHO) report released Thursday November 24, 2005. 

Domestic violence appears to be one of the top abuses against women worldwide, according to a new "WHO Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence Against Women" that surveyed 24,000 women in 10 countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Namibia, Peru, Samoa, Serbia and Montenegro, Thailand and Tanzania. 

Report findings document the prevalence of intimate partner violence and its association with women's physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health. Data is included on non-partner violence, sexual abuse during childhood and forced first sexual experience. Information is also provided on women’s responses: Whom do women turn to and whom do they tell about the violence in their lives? Do they leave or fight back? Which services do they use and what response do they get?  The report concludes with 15 recommendations to strengthen national commitment and action on violence against women.

“Violence against women is the most pervasive violation of human rights, occurring every day, in every country and every region, regardless of income or level of development,” UNIFEM Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer said, citing the WHO report estimate that nearly one in four women will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime, sometimes with fatal consequences.

She called for three major actions to break “this vicious cycle” of violence: countries must pass and enforce laws to deter acts of violence against women and reduce the spread of HIV; women who have suffered abuse must speak out to break the culture of shame and stigma; and awareness must be raised on the links between violence against women and HIV/AIDS, especially by the media.

In the USA, about 1.5 million women a year are assualted by a husband or boyfriend; about one in six women have been sexually assaulted some time in their life, accroding to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Compiled from:
UN calls for Strong Action to Eliminate Violence Against Women, UN News Center, November 28, 2005. 

Dan Vergano, Violence against women is global, USA TODAY, November 24, 2005.