Violence against women has reached ‘epidemic proportions,’ WHO reports says
Women violated by their partners are twice as likely to face depression as women who have not experienced violence. National Monitor, Fritzi R. Bodenheimer | June 21, 2013
A new report released today by the World Health Organization (WHO) says violence against women has reached “epidemic proportions.” More than one-third of women around the world will experience violence resulting in physical and mental harm.
The violence against women is most likely to come from an intimate partner. It may include physical violence like hitting, kicking or beating; sexual coercion; emotional abuse like insults, humiliation, or threats of harm; or controlling behaviors like restricting access to a woman’s family, job, or medical care.
“The report findings show that violence greatly increases women’s vulnerability to range of short-and long-term health problems; it highlights the need for the health sector to take violence against women more seriously,” said Dr. Claudia Garcia-Moreno, one of the authors of the report.
Women violated by their partners are twice as likely to face depression as women who have not experienced violence.
They are also more likely to contract HIV and sexual transmitted diseases and to experience unwanted pregnancies.
The study found that among women who are murdered, 38 percent were murdered by their intimate partner. Forty-two percent of women who have been sexually or physically violated sustain injuries.
While violence is a global problem, women in southeast Asia, eastern Mediterranean countries and Africa had the highest incidences. Still, the report shows 32 percent of violence against women occurs in high-income countries. In the United States, about 5 million women are victims of domestic violence, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
“This new data shows that violence against women is extremely common. We urgently need to invest in prevention to address the underlying causes of this global women’s health problem,” said Professor Charlotte Watts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The school was a partner to WHO in the research, along with the South African Medical Research Council. The researchers looked at data from 81 countries.
Among the minimum standards WHO recommends to health care centers is training for providers in how to ask their patients about violence, a guarantee of confidentiality and a private setting for consultation, and the resources to treat the physical and mental health of the patient.
In an interview with Voice of America, Garcia-Moreno of WHO, said we need to prevent violence from happening in the first place. “We know that children who are abused or who are exposed to their parents abusing each other are more likely to end up in an abusive relationship either as perpetrator or as victim,” she said.
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