Violence against women remains devastatingly pervasive and starts alarmingly young, shows new data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and partners. Across their lifetime, 1 in 3 women, around 736 million, are subjected to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence from a non-partner – a number that has remained largely unchanged over the past decade.
This violence starts early: 1 in 4 young women (aged 15-24 years) who have been in a relationship will have already experienced violence by an intimate partner by the time they reach their mid-twenties.
"Violence against women is endemic in every country and culture, causing harm to millions of women and their families, and has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
Intimate partner violence is by far the most prevalent form of violence against women globally (affecting around 641 million). However, 6% of women globally report being sexually assaulted by someone other than their husband or partner. Given the high levels of stigma and under-reporting of sexual abuse, the true figure is likely to be significantly higher.
Preventing violence requires addressing systemic economic and social inequalities, ensuring access to education and safe work, and changing discriminatory gender norms and institutions. Successful interventions also include strategies that ensure essential services are available and accessible to survivors, that support women's organisations, challenge inequitable social norms, reform discriminatory laws and strengthen legal responses, among others.
Source: World Health Organisation (WHO)