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Wednesday, February 26, 2014
In Focus: Reiterating the Gravity of Gender-Based Violence (Part I)
A review of the literature, as summarized by the World Health Organization (WHO), offers support regarding the gravity of gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against women (VAW), globally.
The WHO (2013) issued a fact sheet on the matter, which included the following:
• Violence against women - particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women - are major public health problems and violations of women's human rights.
• Recent global prevalence figures indicate that 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
• On average, 30% of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their partner.
• Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.
• Violence can result in physical, mental, sexual, reproductive health and other health problems, and may increase vulnerability to HIV.
• Risk factors for being a perpetrator include low education, exposure to child maltreatment or witnessing violence in the family, harmful use of alcohol, attitudes accepting of violence and gender inequality.
• Risk factors for being a victim of intimate partner and sexual violence include low education, witnessing violence between parents, exposure to abuse during childhood and attitudes accepting violence and gender inequality.
• In high-income settings, school-based programs to prevent relationship violence among young people (or dating violence) are supported by some evidence of effectiveness.
• In low-income settings, other primary prevention strategies, such as microfinance combined with gender equality training and community-based initiatives that address gender inequality and communication and relationship skills, hold promise.
• Situations of conflict, post conflict and displacement may exacerbate existing violence and present new forms of violence against women.
The United Nations defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."
Intimate partner violence refers to behavior by an intimate partner or ex-partner that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviors.
Sexual violence is any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting. It includes rape, defined as the physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration of the vulva or anus with a penis, other body part or object.
Scope of the problem:
Population-level surveys based on reports from victims provide the most accurate estimates of the prevalence of intimate partner violence and sexual violence in non-conflict settings. The first report of the "WHO Multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women" (2005) in 10 mainly developing countries found that, among women aged 15-49:
• between 15% of women in Japan and 71% of women in Ethiopia reported physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime;
• between 0.3–11.5% of women reported experiencing sexual violence by a non-partner since the age of 15 years;
• the first sexual experience for many women was reported as forced – 17% in rural Tanzania, 24% in rural Peru, and 30% in rural Bangladesh.
A more recent analysis of WHO with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Medical Research Council, based on existing data from over 80 countries, found that globally 35% of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. Most of this violence is intimate partner violence. Worldwide, almost one third (30%) of all women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner, in some regions this is much higher. Globally as many as 38% of all murders of women are committed by intimate partners.
Intimate partner and sexual violence are mostly perpetrated by men against women and child sexual abuse affects both boys and girls. International studies reveal that approximately 20% of women and 5–10% of men report being victims of sexual violence as children. Violence among young people, including dating violence, is also a major problem.
World Health Organization, (2013). Violence against women: Intimate partner and sexual violence against women (N°239). Retrieved from World Health Organization website: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/.