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Violence against Women
Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights. It can include physical, sexual, psychological and economic abuse, and it cuts across boundaries of age, race, culture, wealth and geography. It takes place in the home, on the streets, in schools, the workplace, in farm fields, refugee camps, during conflicts and crises. It has many manifestations — from the most universally prevalent forms of domestic and sexual violence, to harmful practices, abuse during pregnancy, so-called honour killings and other types of femicide.
Based on country data available, up to 70 per cent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime. A World Health Organization study of 24,000 women in ten countries found that the prevalence of physical and/or sexual violence by a partner varied from 15 percent in urban Japan to 71 percent in rural Ethiopia, with most areas being in the 30–60 percent range.
Violence against women and girls has far-reaching consequences, harming families and communities. Gender-based violence not only violates human rights, but also hampers productivity, reduces human capital and undermines economic growth.
Countries have made some progress in addressing violence against women and girls. According to the UN Secretary-General’s 2006 In-Depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women, 89 countries had some legislation on domestic violence, and a growing number of countries had instituted national plans of action. Marital rape is a prosecutable offence in at least 104 States, and 90 countries have laws on sexual harassment. However, in too many countries gaps remain.
In 2008, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched his campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women to draw international attention at the highest level to the issue. Say NO – UNiTE is designed to support social mobilization to drive actions and accountability, in contribution to the UNiTE campaign.
Did You Know?
- Up to 70 percent of women and girls will be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their lifetime.
- Rape and domestic violence are a higher risk for women aged 15 to 44 than cancer, traffic accidents or malaria.
- Violence against women has become a weapon of war. In Rwanda, up to half a million women were raped during the 1994 genocide.
- 140 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation.
- It is estimated that 5,000 women are victims of so-called “honour killings” every year.
- The economic costs of violence against women are considerable. In the United States, the costs of medical care and productivity loss due to intimate partner violence exceed US$5.8 billion per year.