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One in three women faces violence by men: WHO

One in three women faces violence by men: WHO

According to a World Health Organization report released on March 10, 2021, one in three women worldwide or around 736 million women faced physical or sexual violence from their intimate partners or non-partners.

The report titled 'Violence Against Women Prevalence Estimates, 2018', termed by the WHO as the largest-ever study of the prevalence of violence against women, revealed that the overall figures of women who experienced violence from men remained unchanged in the last decade. The study also found that such violence starts early, and mostly younger women and those in low-income or lower-income countries were at an increased risk.

The research conducted on behalf of United Nations agencies tracked the period from 2000 to 2018 and did not cover the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers compiled the data collected from 158 countries and looked at both violence inflicted by intimate partners of women and girls aged over 15 and sexual violence by non-partners.

According to the report, among those who have been in a relationship, the highest rates (16 per cent) of intimate partner violence in the past year occurred among young women aged between 15 and 24. Violence from intimate partners was the most prevalent, and it affected around 641 million women across the world.

The highest prevalence of violence from intimate partners was reported from Oceania, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Europe reported the lowest range with 16–23 per cent of intimate partner violence, followed by central Asia (18 per cent), Eastern Asia (20 per cent) and south-eastern Asia (21 per cent). Among the participants, about 6 per cent reported being sexually assaulted by someone other than their husband or intimate partner.

"Violence against women is endemic in every country and culture, causing harm to millions of women and their families. We can only fight it with deep-rooted and sustained efforts by governments, communities and individuals to change harmful attitudes, improve access to opportunities and services for women and girls, and foster healthy and mutually respectful relationships," said WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The 2020 Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic and the lockdown and distancing rules that followed have already led to an increase in reports of domestic violence, bringing the attention of the world to the importance of addressing violence against women as a public health priority. But this study results highlight that violence against women was already highly prevalent globally even before the pandemic.

Violence against women can result in various short, medium and long-term effects on women, children, and families' physical, mental and overall wellbeing.

WHO urged the countries and governments worldwide to address the problem through appropriate reformations on discriminatory laws, strengthening women's economic rights, sound gender transformative policies, strengthening of healthcare and educational system to include comprehensive sexuality education and investment in high-quality surveys on violence against women.

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