New Report: World Health Organization Classifies Violence against Women as “Epidemic”
Monday, June 24, 2013 4:00 PM

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released the first ever systematic study of global data on the impact of physical and mental abuse on women and girls. The report was co-authored by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council. According to the report, thirty-five percent of women around the globe have been physically or sexually abused. The study shows how violence against women is “extremely common” and “a global health problem of epidemic proportions.” Still, researchers warn that the WHO findings “may underestimate the prevalence” of abuse because of underreporting.
Other staggering statistics from the study include the fact that 80% of reported violence occurred within the home at the hands of a spouse or partner. Furthermore, 38% of all women murdered globally were killed by their partners and 42% of abused women had injuries as a result of the violence perpetrated against them. In contrast, only 6% of murdered men were killed by their partners.
The report stressed the need for health officials to adopt new prevention guidelines, as well as better protection for victims. This includes better training of health workers in recognizing when a woman may be at risk of violence. Claudia García-Moreno, physician for the WHO, stated that educating women and promoting economic independence for women can also help curb violence against women. Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO, stated “the world’s health systems can and must do more for women who experience violence.” The WHO plans on implementing new guidelines by the end of June in response to the report.
Compiled from: “Violence against women worldwide is 'epidemic',” BBC News (20 June 2013); Doucleff, Michaeleen, and Chatterjee, Rhitu, “WHO Finds Violence Against Women Is 'Shockingly' Common,” NPR (20 June 2013); “WHO report highlights violence against women as a ‘global health problem of epidemic proportions’,” World Health Organization (20 June 2013).