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Twenty Five Shocking Facts About Violence Against Women


“Violence against women both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms… In all societies, to a greater or lesser degree, women and girls are subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse that cuts across lines of income, class and culture.”

—Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, paragraph 112

Violence against women has been called “the most pervasive yet least recognized human rights abuse in the world.” In every country across the globe, every day of the week, every hour of every day, women are victims of violence based on their gender.

Gender-based violence both reflects and reinforces inequities between men and women and compromises the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims. It encompasses a wide range of human rights violations, including sexual abuse of children, rape, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, trafficking of women and girls and several harmful traditional practices. Any one of these abuses can leave deep psychological scars, damage the health of women and girls in general, including their reproductive and sexual health, and in some instances, results in death.

To give you a tiny glimpse into an epidemic problem, here are twenty-five of the most shocking facts about violence against women:

It’s Ubiquitous…

violence against womenMore than one in three women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner violence. In some countries, more than 70 percent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner.

Nine out of ten victims of intimate partner violence in the US and the EU are women. This number is even higher in developing nations.

Over 22 million women in the U.S. have been raped in their lifetime. About one in five women in the U.S. has survived a completed or attempted rape.

About one in four men across the world has raped someone at some point in their lives. About half of these men have raped multiple women — nearly 30 percent have raped 2-3 women, 12 percent have raped 4-10 women, and about five percent had raped 10 or more women. In Papua New Guinea, more than 60 percent of men admit to raping at least one woman.

More than 70 percent of men who have admitted to raping someone said they did it because of “sexual entitlement.”

Getting Help Can Be Difficult…

More than 100 of the nation states recognized by the U.N. have no specific legal provisions against violence. Marital rape is not a prosecutable offense in at least 53 nation states.

In all but six states in the U.S., women can be fired from their job for being a victim of domestic violence.

Stigma and fear often prevent women from seeking help. Between 55 and 95 percent of women who have been physically abused by their partners have never contacted the police or other sources (like shelters) for help. This number is even lower for sexual violence.

It comes in many forms…

One-third of girls in the world become child brides. In 2010, there were 67 million child brides in countries across the end-violence-against-women-1globe.

Approximately 140 million women and girls in the world have suffered female genital mutilation/cutting.

Women make up 98 percent of the nearly 5 million victims of forced sexual exploitation. Of all victims of human trafficking each year, 80 percent are women and girls.

Nearly fourteen women are murdered in “honor killings” every single day. In an average year, at least 5,000 women are victims of honor killings — but experts say this number vastly underestimates the true prevalence. Most of these do not make the news, and men who commit honor killings may even be treated with admiration or be given special status within their communities.

In several countries in the Middle East, men who commit honor killings are protected from prosecution by special legal codes. For example, in Jordan, men who kill their wives or female family members for suspected adultery are protected by Article 340 of the Jordanian Penal Code. In Iran, the killing of a female child is not subject to punishment if she is killed by her father or grandfather. The same exemption applies to men who kill their wives for suspected adultery.

Rape has long been used as a tactic of war. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, an average of at least 36 women and girls — 1,100 per month — are raped.

In the U.S., Women Are More Likely to be Killed by Intimate Partners Than Anyone Else…

Females killed by male partners make up 70 percent of all victims killed by an intimate partner in the U.S..

Sixteen times as many women in the U.S. are murdered by a male they knew than are killed by male strangers.

Homicide at the hands of an intimate partner is the leading cause of death for African American women ages 15-34.

Of females killed with a firearm in the U.S., about two-thirds are killed by a current or former intimate partner.

The presence of a firearm quickly escalates violence against women, increasing the chance of fatality by 500 percent.

The Consequences are Severe…

violence against womenWorldwide, intimate partner violence is the leading cause of non-fatal injuries among women.

Nearly half of all incidents of intimate partner violence against women result in injury.

Women who are victims of intimate partner violence are at least 48 percent more likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS than non-abused women.

Intimate partner violence costs billions of dollars each year to national economies. In the U.S., the economic costs resulting from intimate partner violence against women exceed $8.3 billion each year, of which more than $4 billion is spent on direct medical costs. When pain, suffering, and lost quality of life are taken into account, this number rises to a staggering $67 billion/year.

More than half of female intimate partner violence victims in the U.S. miss three or more full days of work each month due to their abuse. In the U.S. alone, intimate partner violence against women results in an estimated 13.5 million lost days of work each year.

Not Everyone Is Working To Stop It…

Of the 31 Senate votes cast against the Violence Against Women Act in 2012, 95.8 percent came from older, white, male Republicans. The remaining 4.2 percent of votes against the Violence Against Women Act were cast by younger, male Republicans, at least one of whom sits on the Science Committee yet is unable to say how old the earth is.


“Violence against women and girls is the most pervasive violation of human rights in the world today. Its forms are both subtle and blatant and its impact on development profound. But it is so deeply embedded in cultures around the world that it is almost invisible. Yet this brutality is not inevitable. Once recognized for what it is—a construct of power and a means of maintaining the status quo—it can be dismantled.”

– Charlotte Bunch, UNICEF, The Intolerable Status Quo: Violence Against Women and Girls

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