WHO Study Finds Domestic and Sexual Violence are Serious Public Health Problems WorldwideMonday, July 26 2010
In a critically important study released late last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that domestic and sexual violence are serious public health problems worldwide. Based on interviews with 24,000 women around the world, it found that one-fifth to three-quarters of women had experienced physical or sexual violence since age 15, with most of it inflicted by male partners. The World Health Organization shared the findings of its Multi-country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women with U.S. congressional leaders and staff in May.
Intimate partner violence is common, the study found, and its consequences - particularly for women's health - can be devastating. They include HIV/AIDS, with women now the fastest growing group of victims of the epidemic. Sexual violence and an inability to negotiate safer sex greatly increase women's vulnerability. Pregnancy is also a time of enormous risk, with violence often continuing or escalating.
"We found that women's greatest risk of violence is from a partner," said Claudia Garcia-Moreno, Department of Gender, Women and Health, World Health Organization and the study's overall coordinator. "Many women internalize social norms that justify abuse. Many think, for instance, that a man is justified in beating his wife if she disobeys him or refuses to have sex."
"Our biggest surprise," Garcia-Moreno added, "was learning how hidden the problem is and how few women contact formal support services. In fact, many women had never told anyone about the violence in their lives before we asked them for this study. We need to do more to change social norms that justify violence against women." (...)
Family Violence Prevention Fund www.endabuse.org