The World Health Organization (WHO) has found one in three women will suffer physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. Of the countries surveyed, Japan reported the lowest rates of female victims of violence, (15 per cent) and Ethiopia the highest (71 per cent).
While in recent years, resources to help women in the aftermath of sexual or physical violence have improved, preventative measures remain poor. Violence occurs most frequently when both victim and perpetrator have low education levels.
WHO is calling for more anti gender discrimination measures and education programs to be established worldwide.
Professor Charlotte Watts and Dr Claudia Garcia-Moreno, leaders of the research, say that working to change the perceptions and attitudes of both perpetrators and victims of violence – correcting notions that women are inferior to men – will help reduce rates of physical and sexual against women.
“Evidence tells us that changes in attitudes and behaviours are possible, and can be achieved within less than a generation,” Professor Watts said.
Furthermore, medical and health professionals, as the first point of contact for most victims of violence, should be encouraged to provide greater programs to educate and assist perpetrators and victims.
“Health-care providers can send a powerful message – that violence is not only a social problem, but a dangerous, unhealthy, and harmful practice – and they can champion prevention efforts in the community,” Dr Garcie-Moreno said.
“The health community is missing important opportunities to integrate violence programming meaningfully into public health initiatives on HIV/AIDS, adolescent health, maternal health, and mental health.”
The researchers are lobbying governments to eliminate laws that encourage gender-based discrimination and violence, increase support, awareness and resources, and inject more time and funding into programs that eliminate gender-based violence, and address the issue as a global health problem, that can have lifelong medical repercussions for its victims.
Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. November 25 – December 10 mark 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. Click here for further information. Click here for the WHO Violence Against Women fact sheet.