Nearly one in three women—around 736 million—on a global scale are subjected to physical or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime.
This was shown in a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), which stated that the figures have remained the same over the past decade. “The violence starts early: 1 in 4 young women (aged 15-24 years) who have been in a relationship will have already experienced violence by an intimate partner by the time they reach their mid-twenties,” as per the WHO.
What’s the most widespread form of violence against women around the world? Intimate partner violence, which has affected around 641 million thus far. “However, 6% of women globally report being sexually assaulted by someone other than their husband or partner,” the agency emphasized. With this, there’s a chance that the most accurate numbers could be a lot higher than the ones in the aforementioned report.
“The results paint a horrifying picture,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press briefing. “This is an old problem, but we can change it. We can all speak up to say the violence against women is never acceptable.”
From 2000 to 2018, the researchers gathered data from 161 countries, looking into intimate partner violence on females aged 15 and up and non-partner sexual violence. It can be noted that the alarming numbers “do not reflect the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“WHO and partners warn that the COVID-19 pandemic has further increased women’s exposure to violence, as a result of measures such as lockdowns and disruptions to vital support services,” it read.
Prior to calling on every government to take strong action against the growing problem, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said, “It’s deeply disturbing that this pervasive violence by men against women not only persists unchanged, but is at its worst for young women aged 15-24 who may also be young mothers. And that was the situation before the pandemic stay-at-home orders.”
How can this continued concern be addressed? Dr. Claudia Garcia-Moreno of WHO highlighted the urgent need “to reduce stigma around this issue, train health professionals to interview survivors with compassion, and dismantle the foundations of gender inequality.”
“Interventions with adolescents and young people to foster gender equality and gender-equitable attitudes are also vital,” she added.
If you know or suspect someone is experiencing violence, you may report it to the hotlines provided by the Philippine Commission on Women.