The first-ever World Health Organization (WHO) study on domestic violence reveals that intimate partner violence is the most common form of violence in women’s lives - much more so than assault or rape by strangers or acquaintances. The study reports on the enormous toll physical and sexual violence by husbands and partners has on the health and well-being of women around the world and the extent to which partner violence is still largely hidden.
The study (which found that one in six women are victims of intimate partner violence) is based on interviews with more than 24 000 women from rural and urban areas in 10 countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Namibia, Peru, Samoa, Serbia and Montenegro, Thailand, and the United Republic of Tanzania. The study's authors found one-quarter to one-half of all women who had been physically assaulted by their partners said they had suffered physical injuries. Abused women were twice as likely as non-abused women to have poor health and physical and mental problems such as pain or suicidal thoughts or attempts. At least 20 per cent of women who reported physical violence in the study never told anyone before they were interviewed. The report recommends changes to attitudes that perpetuate abuse. Recommendations include:
-Integrating violence prevention into health programs.
-Training health workers and police to identify and respond.
-Ensuring schools are safe places.
-Strengthening support systems for victims.