WHO: Globally, 35 Percent Of All Women Are Victims Of Sexual Violence

Domestic Violence

According to a new report by the World Health Organization, 35 percent of women around the world have been sexually and physically abused, and 80 percent of the time, the violence comes at the hands of their domestic partners, inside the home:

The report, Global and regional estimates of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence, represents the first systematic study of global data on the prevalence of violence against women – both by partners and non-partners. Some 35% of all women will experience either intimate partner or non-partner violence. The study finds that intimate partner violence is the most common type of violence against women, affecting 30% of women worldwide.

The shocking report also found that when women are murdered, nearly 40 percent of the time it is their partner or spouse that killed them, compared with 6 percent the other way around.

And when the violence against them doesn’t kill them, many are left with irreversible, long-standing mental and physical health problems:

Depression – Partner violence is a major contributor to women’s mental health problems, with women who have experienced partner violence being almost twice as likely to experience depression compared to women who have not experienced any violence.

Alcohol use problems – Women experiencing intimate partner violence are almost twice as likely as other women to have alcohol-use problems.

Sexually transmitted infections – Women who experience physical and/or sexual partner violence are 1.5 times more likely to acquire syphilis infection, chlamydia, or gonorrhoea. In some regions (including sub-Saharan Africa), they are 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV.

The WHO report goes on to call for better reporting and health responses, which are undoubtedly necessary, but when it comes to prevention, is there really a better method for changing this vicious trend than the full-scale empowerment of women, both educationally and by giving them some control over their reproductive systems? There is nothing the paternalistic, archaic societies that prey on our sisters around world fear more than seeing their women educated and able to stand up to them.

We’re getting there, but there’s a heck of a lot more work to be done.

(Photo by flickr user CMY Kane)

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