Today is the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.” For a minute, let’s imagine a world where at least one out of three women and girls were not subject to being “beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their lifetimes, usually by someone they know”. Violence against women is reported by the UN’s Say No to Violence Against Women” campaign to be “perhaps the most pervasive human rights violation that we know today“. (The following paragraphs are taken from their report)
Statistics paint a horrifying picture of the social and health consequences of violence against women. For women aged 15 to 44 years, violence is a major cause of death and disability . In a 1994 study based on World Bank data about ten selected risk factors facing women in this age group, rape and domestic violence rated higher than cancer, motor vehicle accidents, war and malaria ….
Domestic and intimate partner violence includes physical and sexual attacks against women in the home, within the family or within an intimate relationship. Women are more at risk of experiencing violence in intimate relationships than anywhere else.
In no country in the world are women safe from this type of violence. Out of ten counties surveyed in a 2005 study by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 50 percent of women in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru and Tanzania reported having been subjected to physical or sexual violence by intimate partners, with figures reaching staggering 71 percent in rural Ethiopia. Only in one country (Japan) did less than 20 percent of women report incidents of domestic violence . An earlier WHO study puts the number of women physically abused by their partners or ex-partners at 30 percent in the United Kingdom, and 22 percent in the United States .
Based on several surveys from around the world, half of the women who die from homicides are killed by their current or former husbands or partners. Women are killed by people they know and die from gun violence, beatings and burns, among numerous other forms of abuse . A study conducted in São Paulo, Brazil, reported that 13 percent of deaths of women of reproductive age were homicides, of which 60 percent were committed by the victims’ partners . According to a UNIFEM report on violence against women in Afghanistan, out of 1,327 incidents of violence against women collected between January 2003 and June 2005, 36 women had been killed — in 16 cases (44.4 percent) by their intimate partners .
According to the Secretary-General’s In-Depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women, by 2006 89 States had some form of legislative prohibition on domestic violence, including 60 States with specific domestic violence laws, and a growing number of countries had instituted national plans of action to end violence against women…
Limited availability of services, stigma and fear prevent women from seeking assistance and redress. This has been confirmed by a study published by the WHO in 2005: on the basis of data collected from 24,000 women in 10 countries, between 55 percent and 95 percent of women who had been physically abused by their partners had never contacted NGOs, shelters or the police for help .”