31% of Women Have Faced Violence, WHO Report Says
Nearly one in three women worldwide is subjected to physical or sexual violence during her lifetime, pervasive criminal behavior that has increased during the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday, Reuters reports. The U.N. agency urged governments to prevent violence, improve services for victims and tackle economic inequalities that often leave women and girls trapped in abusive relationships. "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," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Some 31 percent of women aged 15-49, or up to 852 million women, have experienced physical or sexual violence, the WHO said in what it called the largest-ever such study, including national data and surveys from 2000-2018. A husband or intimate partner is the most common perpetrator and a disproportionate number of victims are in the poorest countries, the report said. Accurate figures are likely far higher due to under-reporting of sexual abuse, a heavily-stigmatized crime. "These numbers are very shocking and really are sort of a wake-up call for governments to be doing much more to prevent this violence," report author Claudia Garcia-Moreno said. In some regions, more than half of women face violence at some point, she said, citing Oceania, sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia.
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