Violence against women: a problem of epidemic proportions around the world

“There is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.” – United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon (2008, SG/SM/11437 WOM/1665)



This report, developed by the World Health Organization, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council presents the first global systematic review of scientific data on the prevalence of two forms of violence against women: violence by an intimate partner (intimate partner violence) and sexual violence by someone other than a partner (non-partner sexual violence). It shows, for the first time, global and regional estimates of the prevalence of these two forms of violence, using data from around the world. Previous reporting on violence against women has not differentiated between partner- and non-partner violence.

The report shows that violence against women is pervasive globally. The findings send a powerful message that violence against women is not a small problem that only occurs in some pockets of society, but rather is a global public health problem of epidemic proportions, requiring urgent action. It is time for the world to take action: a life free of violence is a basic human right, one that every woman, man and child deserves.

The report also details the effects of violence on women’s physical, sexual and reproductive, and mental health:


The variation in the prevalence of violence seen within and between communities, countries and regions, highlights that violence is not inevitable, and that it can be prevented:

Promising prevention programmes exist, and need to be tested and scaled up.  There is growing evidence about what factors explain the global variation documented. This evidence highlights the need to address the economic and sociocultural factors that foster a culture of violence against women. This also includes the importance of challenging social norms that support male authority and control over women and sanction or condone violence against women; reducing levels of childhood exposures to violence; reforming discriminatory family law; strengthening women’s economic and legal rights; and eliminating gender inequalities in access to formal wage employment and secondary education.”

To learn more, here is the access to the full report:


WHO also issued the following clinical and policy guidelines: Responding to intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women


Source: WHO

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