Violence Against Women


VAW UN stats

*United Nations

“In 1993, the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women offered the first official definition of the term “Gender-based Violence”: “Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” Gender-based violence has become an umbrella term for any harm that is perpetrated against a person’s will, and that results from power inequalities that are based on gender roles. Around the world, gender-based violence almost always has a greater negative impact on women and girls. For this reason the term “Gender-based Violence” is often used interchangeably with the term “Violence against Women” (VAW)” – HHRI

– Intimate partner violence refers to behavior by an intimate partner or ex-partner that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviors.

– Sexual violence is any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting. It includes rape, defined as the physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration of the vulva or anus with a penis, other body part or object.

This is not a “women’s issue”. This is a global issue.  It is an issue by which we are all affected. What makes it a “women’s issue”? Men care about the women in their community. This truth extends beyond the desire to prevent violence against their mother, daughter, sister, or wife. We do not need to be a victim or know a victim to care about this issue. We are talking about rape. Regardless of gender, race, or faith, all people have the potential to be affected by domestic violence, abuse, sexual attacks, and gender-based murder.

“One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. Ending violence against women is as important as ending poverty, or Aids or global warming” – Eve Ensler

Violence Against Women facts and Statistics

“Although violent crime has decreased nationwide, the crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking still devastate the lives of too many women, men, youth, and children.  Since then-Senator Biden brought national attention to crimes of violence against women in hearings in 1990, we have learned more about their shocking prevalence.  One in every four women and one in every seven men have experienced severe physical violence by a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend. Stalkers victimize approximately 5.2 million women and 1.4 million men each year in the U.S, with domestic violence-related stalking the most common type of stalking and often the most dangerous. One in ten 9th-12th grade students were physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend in 2009 alone. One in five women and one in 71 men have been raped in their lifetimes, and nearly 1.3 million women in the U.S. are raped every year. The statistics are sobering – even more so with our understanding that these types of crimes are often the most underreported. Many victims suffer in silence without confiding in family and friends, much less reaching out for help from hospitals, rape crisis centers, shelters, or even the police.” – Susan B. Carbon, Director of the United States Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (3/08/2012)

Key facts:

Violence against women – particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women – are major public health problems and violations of women’s human rights.

A WHO multi-country study found that between 15–71% of women aged 15- 49 years reported physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.

These forms of violence can result in physical, mental, sexual, reproductive health and other health problems, and may increase vulnerability to HIV.

Risk factors for being a perpetrator also include low education, past exposure to child maltreatment or witnessing violence in the family, harmful use of alcohol, attitudes accepting of violence and gender inequality.

Risk factors for being a victim of intimate partner and sexual violence include low education, witnessing violence between parents, exposure to abuse during childhood and attitudes accepting violence and gender inequality.

In high-income settings, school-based programmes to prevent relationship violence among young people (or dating violence) are supported by some evidence of effectiveness.

In low-income settings, other primary prevention strategies, such as microfinance combined with gender equality training and community-based initiatives that address gender inequality and communication and relationship skills, hold promise.

Situations of conflict, post conflict and displacement may exacerbate existing violence and present new forms of violence against women.


Scope of the problem

Population-level surveys based on reports from victims provide the most accurate estimates of the prevalence of intimate partner violence and sexual violence in non-conflict settings. The WHO Multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women in 10 mainly developing countries found that, among women aged 15-49:

  • between 15% of women in Japan and 71% of women in Ethiopia reported physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime;
  • between 0.3–11.5% of women reported experiencing sexual violence by a non-partner since the age of 15 years;
  • the first sexual experience for many women was reported as forced – 17% in rural Tanzania, 24% in rural Peru, and 30% in rural Bangladesh.

Intimate partner and sexual violence are mostly perpetrated by men against girls and women. Child sexual abuse affects boys and girls. International studies reveal that approximately 20% of women and 5–10% of men report being victims of sexual violence as children.

Population-based studies of relationship violence among young people (or dating violence) suggest that this affects a substantial proportion of the youth population. For instance, in South Africa a study of people aged 13-23 years found that 42% of females and 38% of males reported being a victim of physical dating violence.