Making Violence against
Women Count: Facts and Figures - a Summary
Press release, 05/03/2004
The following statistics outline the gravity
and magnitude of the problem of violence against
women throughout the world. However, such figures
do not show the true extent of this human rights
violation. They cannot be comprehensive or
exhaustive and must therefore be interpreted
with caution. There is a lack of systematic
research and statistics on violence against
women. Many women do not report it - they are
ashamed or fear scepticism, disbelief or further
violence. The fact that there is no information
on this problem in some countries and extensive
information in others does not mean that the
problem is country specific. On the contrary,
it emphasizes the need for more research, so
that it can be studied and tackled.
How will violence against women look in a scaled
down world, in a global village of 1,000 people?
(the figures are based on statistics from UN,
WHO and governmental and non-governmental organizations)
- 500 are women
- It would be 510, but 10 were never born
due to gender-selective abortion or died
in infancy due to neglect
- 300 are Asian women
- 167 of the women will be beaten or in some
other way exposed to violence during their
- 100 of the women will be victims of rape
or attempted rape in their lifetime
WOMEN AND POPULATION
- 49.7% of the world population are women
(3,132,342,000 women; 3,169,122,000 men)
(UN Population Division).
- At least 60 million girls who would otherwise
be expected to be alive are "missing"
from various populations as a result of
sex-selective abortions or inadequate
care as they are seen less important than
boys (E, Joni Seager, 2003).
VIOLENCE IN THE FAMILY
Violence within the family takes different forms
- from physical aggression, such as slapping,
hitting, kicking and beating to psychological
abuse, such as intimidation, constant belittling
and humiliation, including various controlling
behaviours, such as isolating a person from
their family and friends, monitoring and restricting
their movements, access to information or assistance.
Around the world
- At least one in every three women, or up
to one billion women, have been beaten,
coerced into sex, or otherwise abused
in their lifetimes. Usually, the abuser
is a member of her own family or someone
known to her (L Heise, M Ellsberg, M Gottemoeller,
- Up to 70% of female murder victims are
killed by their male partners (WHO 2002).
- In Kenya more than one woman a week was
reportedly killed by her male partner
(Joni Seager, 2003).
- In Zambia five women a week were murdered
by a male partner or family member (Joni
- In Egypt 35% of women reported being beaten
by their husband at some point in their
marriage (UNICEF 2000).
- In Bolivia 17% of all women aged 20 years
and over have experienced physical violence
in the previous 12 months (WHO 2002).
- In Canada the costs of violence against
the family amount to $1.6 billion per
year, including medical care and lost
productivity (UNICEF 2000).
- In the USA a woman is battered, usually
by her husband/partner, every 15 seconds
(UN Study on the World's Women, 2000).
- In Bangladesh 50% of all murders are of
women by their partners (Joni Seager,
- In New Zealand 20% of women reported being
hit or physically abused by a male partner
- In Pakistan 42% of women accept violence
as part of their fate; 33% feel too helpless
to stand up to it; 19% protested and 4%
took action against it (Government study
in Punjab 2001).
- In the Russian Federation 36,000 women
are beaten on a daily basis by their husband
or partner, according to Russian non-governmental
organizations (OMCT 2003).
- In Spain one woman every five days was
killed by her male partner in 2000 (Joni
Seager, The Atlas of Women).
- About two women per week are killed by
their partners in the United Kingdom (Joni
Rape is the most violent form of sexual violence.
Rape is also associated with unwanted pregnancies
and sexually transmitted diseases including
HIV/AIDS. However, rape is greatly under reported
because of the stigma attached to it, and even
more rarely punished.
Around the world
- One in five women will be a victim of rape
or attempted rape in her lifetime (WHO
- In South Africa 147 women are raped every
day (South African Institute for Race
- In the USA a woman is raped every 90 seconds
(US Department of Justice, 2000).
- In France 25,000 women are raped per year
(European Women's Lobby, 2001).
- In Turkey 35.6% of women have experienced
marital rape sometimes and 16.3% often
(surveys published in 2000, Women and
sexuality in Muslim societies, WWHR Publications:
WOMEN AND WAR
Violence against women during conflict has reached
epidemic proportions. Mass rape is frequently
used systematically, as a weapon of war. On
top of this, during conflict women are physically
and economically forced to become prostitutes,
sometimes in order to secure the basic necessities
for their families. War impacts on women in
other ways - women and children are also the
majority of refugees and internally displaced
Around the world
80% of the refugees are women and children (UNHCR,
Millions of women and children are caught in
34 communal, ethnic, political and/or international
armed conflicts around the world (all active
instances of societal armed conflicts as of
1 January 2003, CSP-Centre for Systemic Peace).
- Trafficking of women and girls was reported
in 85% of the conflict zones (Save the
- In the Democratic Republic of Congo 5,000
cases of rape, corresponding to an average
of 40 a day, were recorded in the Uvira
area by women associations since October
2002 (UN 2003).
- In Rwanda between 250,000 and 500,000 women,
or about 20% of women, were raped during
the 1994 genocide (International Red Cross
- In Sierra Leone 94 per cent of displaced
households surveyed had experienced sexual
assaults, including rape, torture and
sexual slavery (Physicians for Human Rights,
- In Iraq at least 400 women and girls as
young as eight were reported to have been
raped in Baghdad during or after the war,
since April 2003 (Human Rights Watch Survey,
- Every 14 days a Colombian woman is a victim
of forced "disappearance" according
to a 2001 report by the Women and Armed
Conflict Work Table (UNIFEM 2001).
- Approximately 250,000 Cambodian women were
forced into marriage between 1975 and
1979. On average, two group marriages
may have taken place in every Cambodian
village during the Khmer Rouge regime
- In Bosnia and Herzegovina 20,000 - 50,000
women were raped during five months of
conflict in 1992. (IWTC, Women's GlobalNet
#212. 23rd October 2002).
- In some villages in Kosovo, 30%-50% of
women of child bearing age were raped
by Serbian forces (Amnesty International,
27 May 1999).
Virtually every culture in the world contains
forms of violence against women that are nearly
invisible because they are seen as "normal"
Around the world
More than 135 million girls and women have undergone
female genital mutilation and an additional
2 million girls and women are at risk each
year (6,000 every day) (A, UN, 2002).
- 82 million girls who are now aged 10 to
17 will be married before their 18th birthday
- In more than 28 countries in Africa, female
genital mutilation is practised (Amnesty
- In Niger 76% of the poorest young women
will marry before the age of 18 (UNFPA
- 97% of married women in Egypt aged 15 to
49 have undergone female genital mutilation
(WHO survey, 1996).
- In Iran 45 women under the age of 20 have
been murdered in so-called "honour"
killings by close relatives in Iran's
majority ethnic Arab province of Khuzestan
in a two-month period in 2003 (Middle
East Times, 31 October 2003).
- Female genital mutilation has been reported
in Asian counties such as India, Indonesia,
Malaysia and Sri Lanka as well as among
immigrant communities in Australia (UN
- In India there are close to 15,000 dowry
deaths estimated per year. Mostly they
are kitchen fires designed to look like
accidents (Injustices Studies. Vol. 1,
- FGM is performed amongst immigrant communities
in Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands,
Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom
THE STATE FAILING VICTIMS OF
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Violence against women goes widely unreported.
There are various factors which prevent women
from reporting incidents of violence, such
as fear of retribution, lack of economic means,
emotional dependence, concern for children
and no access to redress. Few countries have
special training for the police, judicial and
medical staff to deal with rape cases.
Around the world
- Around 20-70% of abused women never told
another person about the abuse until being
interviewed for the study by WHO (WHO,
- In South Africa the conviction rate for
rape remains low at an average of 7%.
A third of the estimated number or rapes
were reported in 2003 (Police Annual Report
for the year ending March 2003).
- In Egypt 47% of physically abused women
never told anyone (Population-based study,
1999) (WHO 2002).
In Chile only 3% of all raped women report
the incident to the police (WHO 2002).
- In the USA 16% of women report rapes to
the police; of those who do not, nearly
50 per cent of women would do so if they
could be assured that their names and
private details would not be released
publicly (National Victim Center /Crime
Victims Research and Treatment Center,
- In Australia 18% of women who were physically
assaulted in a period of 12 months never
told any one (Population-based study,
- In Bangladesh 68% of women never told anyone
about being beaten (WHO 2002).
- In Austria 20% of reported rape cases ended
in convictions in the 1990s (London Metropolitan
- In Ireland 20% of physically abused women
contacted the police (Population-based
study, 1999; WHO 2002).
- In the Russian Federation 40% of women
victims of violence within the family
do not seek help from law enforcement
officials (International Helsinki Federation
for Human Rights, Women 2000: Russia).
- In the United Kingdom 13% of all raped
women report the assault to the police
(Joni Seager, 2003).
VIOLENCE WITH IMPUNITY
Violence against women often remains unchecked
and unpunished. Some states have no laws at
all, others have flawed laws which may punish
some forms of violence but exempt others. Even
with the appropriate legislation in place,
many states fail to implement the law fully.
Around the world
- In 2003 at least 54 countries had discriminatory
laws against women (based on a report
by the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence
- In her 1994-2003 review, the UN Special
Rapporteur on Violence Against Women highlighted
problems of law enforcement in almost
all of the reviewed states.
- 79 countries have no (or unknown) legislation
against domestic violence (UNIFEM, Not
a Minute More, 2003).
- Marital rape is recognized specifically
as a crime in only 51 countries as far
as information was available (UNIFEM,
- Only 16 nations have legislation specifically
referring to sexual assault, while as
few as three have legislation that specifically
addresses violence against women as a
category of criminal activity in itself
(Bangladesh, Sweden and USA) (UNIFEM 2003).
- So called "honour" defences (partial
or complete) are found in the penal codes
of Peru, Bangladesh, Argentina, Ecuador,
Egypt, Guatemala, Iran, Israel, Jordan,
Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, the West Bank
and Venezuela (UN 2002).
Increasingly, violence against women is recognized
as a major public health concern. Violence
can affect woman's reproductive health as well
as other aspects of her physical and mental
well being. Sexual violence against women has
led to higher infection rates of HIV/AIDS than
among men of the same age group.
Around the world
- 51% of all people living with HIV/AIDS
today (over 20 million) are women (UNIFEM,
- World-wide, over half of new HIV infections
are occurring among young people between
the ages of 15 to 24, and over 60% of
HIV-positive youth between the ages of
15-24 are women (UNAIDS, 2003).
- 55% of the 16,000 new infections occurring
daily are women (UNAIDS, 2003).
- AIDS now ranks as one of the leading causes
of death among women aged 20 to 40 in
several cities in Europe, sub-Saharan
Africa and North America (UNAIDS, 2003).
- Three million people died of AIDS-related
illnesses in 2003 (UNAIDS, 2003).
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