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One in Three Women Experience Sexual, Physical Violence, World Health Organization Report Says

June 21, 2013

"One in three women experience sexual or physical violence -- most likely from their intimate partner, according to a report from the [WHO]," CNN reports (Park, 6/20). "The report, 'Global and regional estimates of violence against women: Prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence,' represents the first systematic study of global data on the prevalence of violence against women -- both by partners and non-partners," the U.N. News Centre writes (6/20). "Put together by the WHO in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council, the report says 35 percent of women around the world are victims of sexual or physical violence, and that assault at the hands of an intimate partner is by far the most common form of such violence," the Huffington Post's "World" blog notes (Mosbergen, 6/20). "Among the findings: 40 percent of women killed worldwide were slain by an intimate partner, and being assaulted by a partner was the most common kind of violence experienced by women," the Associated Press adds (Cheng, 6/20). "Topping the regional list is WHO's South-East Asia administrative region, which includes India, Bangladesh, and Thailand, where an estimated 37.7 percent of women [were found to have been] beaten or sexually assaulted by a spouse or intimate partner," National Geographic's "News Watch" writes (Morrison, 6/20). "The report says women of all ages, young and old alike, are subject to violence," according to VOA News (Schlein, 6/20).

"Such figures mean that violence should be considered alongside 'mainstream' health risks such as smoking and alcohol use, says Kristin Dunkle, a social epidemiologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, who was not involved in the studies," Nature writes (Baker, 6/20). "The report found that violence against women is a root cause for a range of acute and chronic health problems, ranging from immediate injury to sexually transmitted infections, to HIV, to depression and stress- and alcohol-related health disorders," Reuters reports (Kelland, 6/20). "The head of the [WHO], Dr. Margaret Chan, called it 'a global health problem of epidemic proportions,' and other experts said screening for domestic violence should be added to all levels of health care," the AP writes (6/20). "'The main message is that this problem affects women everywhere,' [Karen Devries, an epidemiologist from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine] says," NPR's "Shots" blog states. "Because of the stigma associated with rape and abuse, 'some of our findings may underestimate the prevalence,'" Devries said, the blog notes (Doucleff/Chatterjee, 6/20). "The study highlights the need for all sectors to engage in eliminating tolerance for violence against women and [improving] support for women who experience it," according to a WHO press release, which adds, "New WHO guidelines, launched with the report, aim to help countries improve their health sector's capacity to respond to violence against women" (6/20). The Guardian's "Data Blog" details some of the findings of the report (Chalabi/Holder, 6/20).

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