RCASA Saturday with Case Management: Sexual Violence Facts and WHO

In Sexual Assault Awareness on March 17, 2012 at 5:00 am

Fact 1: Up to 70% of women experience physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.

The WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women indicated that intimate partner violence is widespread across many societies. The study showed that rates of physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner ranged from 15% in Japan, to 70% in Ethiopia and Peru, with most sites reporting rates of between 29 and 62%. The WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women can be downloaded here:

Fact 2: Violence against women is predictable and preventable.

Levels of violence against women are not the same in all places and at all times. By identifying the social, cultural, legal and economic factors that influence such violence, it is possible to predict its occurrence and to understand how to prevent it. School-based programmes to prevent dating violence; reducing the harmful use of alcohol; changing social and cultural norms through education and awareness raising, and intervening with maltreated children to avert their later involvement in violence can reduce violence against women. For further information on effective prevention strategies, visit:

Fact 3: Violence against women can damage the health and well-being of women.

Mental health consequences of intimate partner and sexual violence include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, suicide attempts, and substance abuse. Physical health consequences include injuries, chronic pain syndromes, gastrointestinal disorders, and disabilities. Violence can lead to unintended pregnancies, gynecological problems, and induced abortions. Women who suffer intimate partner violence also have poorer overall health in the long term than women who are not affected by such violence.

Fact 4: Violence against women can damage the health and well-being of children.

Witnessing intimate partner violence can damage the normal development of children in the family. Studies have shown that some children exposed to violence between parents have more social, emotional, behavioural, cognitive and general health problems than children from families where there was no violence between partners.

Fact 5: Violence against women increases the likelihood of being infected with HIV.

Studies from India, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, the United States of America and other countries show that violence against women increases the risk of HIV infection. A recent study of young women in South Africa showed that HIV negative women who had experienced intimate partner violence or high levels of gender inequality in their relationships with men were 51% more likely to acquire HIV over the next two years. To support programme managers in dealing with violence against women and HIV/AIDS, WHO has published Addressing violence against women in the context of HIV/AIDS: What works?, which can be downloaded here:

Fact 6: Violence against women is an obstacle to achieving several Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The 2010 MDG review showed that progress in achieving MDG 4 on child mortality and MDG 5 on maternal mortality is very slow. Both are held back by violence against women. It is estimated that one in four women worldwide is physically or sexually abused during pregnancy, usually by her partner. Violence against pregnant women is associated with a risk of miscarriage, premature labour and fetal distress, and may be related to low birth weight. Violence against women is also a cause of maternal death. Efforts to reduce maternal, infant and child mortality should include measures to reduce intimate partner and sexual violence against women.

Fact 7: Violence against women seriously affects economic development.

Intimate partner violence has a substantial economic impact. In the United States of America, for example, the estimated costs of intimate partner violence amount to US$ 5.8 billion annually. These include direct costs for medical services (approximately two thirds of the total costs), and indirect costs such as lost productivity

Fact 8: Men who were victims of child maltreatment are three to four times more likely to perpetrate intimate partner violence.

Studies suggest that exposure to violence during childhood increases the likelihood of men perpetrating violence against intimate partners by 3 to 4-fold, compared to men who are not exposed to violence as children.

Fact 9: The harmful use of alcohol by men increases the likelihood of intimate partner violence.

Several studies from low- and middle-income countries show that men who misuse alcohol are 1.6 to 4.8 times more likely to perpetrate intimate partner violence than men who do not misuse alcohol.

Fact 10: Sexual violence is widespread in settings of conflict, post-conflict and displacement.

In armed conflicts, the breakdown of social support structures, families, and communities, and the disruption of services leave women and children vulnerable to sexual violence, including rape by combatants and intimate partners, and sexual exploitation by humanitarian actors. Women may submit to sexual abuse to obtain food and other basic life necessities. Rape is used to brutalize and humiliate civilians (including men) as a tactic of war, and at times for ethnic cleansing.

For more facts please reference: http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/global_campaign/16_days/en/index9.html


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