More than 35 per cent of all women experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetimes, according to a new report from UN agency the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Domestic violence is the most common form, affecting 30 per of all women, the research claims. Forty-two per cent of female domestic violence victims have suffered injuries, while 38 per cent of all female murder victims were killed by current or former partners.
African women experience the highest levels of violence, the report claims – 45.6 per cent, compared to 27.2 per cent in Europe.
Dr Claudia Garcia-Moreno, lead specialist in gender, reproductive rights, sexual health and adolescence at WHO said the report had for the first time “…compared data from all over the world on the magnitude of partner violence and sexual violence by non-partners and the impact of these sorts of violence on health.”
Typical consequences include sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, substance abuse, depression and low birthweight babies.
“These findings send a powerful message that violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions,” believes WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan.
Professor Charlotte Watts of the London School of Hygiene added:
“We urgently need to invest in prevention to address the underlying causes of this global women’s health problem.”
A second WHO report set out a series of recommendations for healthcare staff, recommending, amongst other measures, more training in the detection of domestic abuse. WHO notes that authorities have an opportunity to intervene when abused women seek medical treatment for their injuries.
“…the world’s health systems can and must do more for women who experience violence,” said Chan.