World Health Organization releases global report on violence against women

One third of the world’s women are subjected to physical or sexual violence by a partner or stranger.

This is just one staggering statistic revealed by the World Health Organization’s new report released this week, which documents what the organization is calling “a public health problem of epidemic proportions.”

The report, titled “Global and regional estimates of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence,” is said to be “the first comprehensive, global review of studies on physical and sexual violence against women.”

The study measured violence by the prevalence of reported experiences worldwide, both physical and sexual. What the report exposes is a vast spectrum of human rights abuses against women that spans beyond geographical boundaries—far across any one political, cultural or religious landscape.

The magnitude of the cost of such violence on women’s health, as the data show, is profound.

Here’s what you should know:

The worst affected regions of violence against women by an “intimate partner” are:

• South-East Asia (data collected from Bangladesh, Timor-Leste, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand): 37.7 percent

• Eastern Mediterranean (data collected from Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Palestine): 37 percent

• Africa: 36.6 percent

The worst affected regions of sexual violence against women above the age of 15 committed by partners and/or strangers are:

• Africa: 45.6 percent

• Americas: 36.1 percent

• Eastern Mediterranean: 36.4 percent

• Europe: 27.2 percent

• South-East Asia: 40.2 percent

• Western Pacific: 27.9 percent

GLOBAL FACT: Instances of physical or sexual violence against women are more common than most health risks that affect primarily women (like breast cancer).

The new study reports that an estimated 35 percent of women will at some point experience physical or sexual violence by either a partner or stranger—the most common type of violence being that committed by an intimate partner, which affects 30 percent of women worldwide.

GLOBAL FACT: Women have a higher chance of being murdered by a partner than by a stranger.

The report shows that intimate partners commit 38 percent of all murders against women—a stark contrast to the estimated six percent of murders by intimate partners committed against men.

GLOBAL FACT: 42 percent of women who have faced abuse around the world have borne physical injuries, while women who experience abuse at the hands of a loved one are twice as likely to suffer from depression than women who do not.

Physical and mental impacts on health include death and injury,depression, alcohol abuse, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancy and abortions and low birth-rate babies.