WHO Report Documents Scope of Violence Against Women

It says 35 percent of all women worldwide will experience intimate partner or non-partner violence, calling it a major contributor to women's mental health problems.

Physical or sexual violence is a public health problem that affects more than one third of all women globally, according to a new report released by the World Health Organization in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council.

The report, "Global and regional estimates of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence," is "the first systematic study of global data on the prevalence of violence against women -- both by partners and non-partners," according to WHO, and it says 35 percent of all women will experience intimate partner or non-partner violence. Intimate partner violence is more common, affecting 30 percent of women worldwide.

"These findings send a powerful message that violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions," said Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of WHO. "We also see that the world's health systems can and must do more for women who experience violence."

The report says partner violence is a major contributor to women’s mental health problems, including depression.

"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 of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

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