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Violence Against Women is a Global Problem. We Need to Work Harder to Prevent That.


As if that needed to be said.  Over the past few months, global attention has been focused more on it with the rape/murder os a woman in Delhi and another woman, accused of being a witch was brutally murdered in front of hundres of onlookers -- including many children in Papa New Guinea.  You can read more about that here.  She was tortured and burned alive.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO),

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.

You can read more of their findings here.

They also found that risk factors include:

  • Risk factors for both intimate partner and sexual violence include:

  • lower levels of education (perpetration of sexual violence and experience of sexual violence);

  • exposure to child maltreatment (perpetration and experience);

  • witnessing family violence (perpetration and experience);

  • antisocial personality disorder (perpetration);

  • harmful use of alcohol (perpetration and experience);

  • having multiple partners or suspected by their partners of infidelity (perpetration); and

  • attitudes that are accepting of violence and gender inequality (perpetration and experience).

One thing that strikes me as curious about the instances -- and the corresponding attitudes on girls and women is it ignores the economic reality that when women are permitted to work, that country’s economy improves.  The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) expands on this in a 2012 report. You can read that report here  On this topic, they found, “Countries that have expanded opportunities for women and girls in education and work in recent decades have largely achieved greater prosperity and moderated population growth while limiting child mortality and achieving social progress for all, Sen said. “These greater opportunities and freedoms…have had truly astonishing results,” he said. “There is an overwhelming need to pay attention to the needs of girls and women.”  That might fly in the face of certain opinions that adding women to the workforce would have the opposite impact, there are only so many jobs to go around.

At the end of the day, we need to place more value on girls and women.  Starting with measures to curb violence against them seems like as good a place as any to begin.