One in three women have suffered physical or sexual violence: WHO
One in three women globally have been subjected to physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes, according to a new analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The new report suggests that, although the number of women affected by violence has remained largely unchanged since the last global WHO study in 2013, this violence starts at a young age.
One in four women aged between 15 and 24 years will have already experienced violence by an intimate partner by the time they reach their mid-twenties.
The WHO says this is the largest study ever done of its kind, updating previous estimates released in 2013. The organisation analysed data from existing surveys in 161 countries between the years 2000 and 2018 to produce these new estimations. The study does not include data from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Intimate partner violence was found to be the most widespread global form of abuse reported, with around 641 million women saying they had experienced it. However, 6% of women globally said they had been assaulted by someone other than their husband or partner.
“Violence against women is a global public health problem of pandemic proportions, and it starts at an early age,” study writer Dr Claudia Garcia-Moreno told the BBC. “The number could be much larger as fear of stigma could be a barrier to many women reporting sexual violence.”
WHO data showed, Kiribati, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Afghanistan are the countries with the highest prevalence of women facing violence. The lowest rates are in Europe, up to 23 per cent, over a lifetime.
With the start of the coronavirus pandemic a year ago, women’s exposure to intimate violence has intensified as people were forced to stay at home with their abuser while access to formal and informal support systems – friends, extended family, work colleagues – was removed or disrupted.
In Colombia, for example, reports of gender-based violence during lockdown increased by 175 per cent compared with the previous year, according to Plan International.
The U.N. agency urged governments to prevent violence, improve services for victims and tackle economic inequalities that often leave women and girls trapped in abusive relationships.
Boys should be taught in school about the need for mutual respect in relationships and mutual consent in sex, WHO officials said.
Source: Different News Agencies