Women worldwide more at risk of violence from an intimate partner than from other people

Worldwide, women, unlike men, are at most risk of violence from an intimate partner than from other perpetrators, according to an Article in this week's issue of The Lancet. In 13 of the 15 study sites, more than a quarter of women reported physical or sexual partner violence, or both, at least once in their lives. In all but one setting women were at far greater risk of violence by a partner than from violence by other people.

Violence against women is a serious public-health problem--with substantial consequences for women's physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health. Until recently, most of the evidence on the prevalence of domestic violence against women came from Western countries, and differences in study design limit comparisons between these studies.

In the latest study, the World Health Organization (WHO) assessed the extent of physical and sexual intimate partner violence against women in 15 diverse sites in 10 countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Namibia, Peru, Samoa, Serbia, Thailand, and the United Republic of Tanzania. Over 24,000 women aged 15-49 were interviewed. The study found that intimate partner violence is common in these countries and that a large proportion of the violence is severe, and happens frequently. The prevalence of physical or sexual partner abuse, or both, in the last 12 months, was estimated to be between 4% in the cities in Japan and Serbia and more than 30% in the rural sites in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Peru. Severe acts of violence were more common in traditional rural settings compared with industrial settings. The analysis showed that women's education, age, and marital status alone did not account for the differences between sites. Further analyses will look in more depth at a wide range of risk and protective factors, at the level of the individual, the household, the community, and the wider society, state the authors.

Author Dr Claudia Garcia-Moreno (World Health Organization) states: "The findings show that, across a wide range of settings, women are more at risk of violence by an intimate partner than from any other type of perpetrator. The variation within and between settings highlights that violence is not inevitable, and must be addressed."

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EMBARGO: 00:01H (London time) Friday October 6, 2006. In North America the embargo lifts at 18:30H ET Thursday October 5, 2006.

Contact: Dr Claudia Garcia-Moreno, World Health Organization. T) +41795 090650 garciamorenoc@who.int or jansenh@who.int


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