World Health Organization

Violence against women is a significant public health problem, as well as a fundamental violation of women’s human rights.

This infographic shows the findings of a report, developed by the World Health Organization, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council. It presents the first global systematic review and synthesis of the body of scientific data on the prevalence of two forms of violence against women— violence by an intimate partner (intimate partner violence) and sexual violence by someone other than a partner (non-partner sexual violence). 

It shows, for the first time, aggregated global and regional prevalence estimates of these two forms of violence, generated using population data from all over the world that have been compiled in a systematic way. The report also details the effects of violence on women’s physical, sexual and reproductive, and mental health. Full report can be found here. 

The findings are striking:

  • overall, 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non- partner sexual violence. While there are many other forms of violence that women may be exposed to, this already represents a large proportion of the world’s women;
  • 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, 38% of women have experienced intimate partner violence;
  • globally, as many as 38% of all murders of women are committed by intimate partners;
  • women who have been physically or sexually abused by their partners report higher rates of a number of important health problems. For example, they are 16% more likely to have a low-birth-weight baby. They are more than twice as likely to have an abortion, almost twice as likely to experience depression, and, in some regions, are 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, as compared to women who have not experienced partner violence;
  • globally, 7% of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner. There are fewer data available on the health effects of non-partner sexual violence. However, the evidence that does exist reveals that women who have experienced this form of violence are 2.3 times more likely to have alcohol use disorders and 2.6 times more likely to experience depression or anxiety. 

Violence against women is pervasive globally. The findings send a powerful message that violence against women is not a small problem that only occurs in some pockets of society, but rather is a global public health problem of epidemic proportions, requiring urgent action. It is time for the world to take action: a life free of violence is a basic human right, one that every woman, man and child deserves.

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