Rates of violence against women remain “unacceptably high” around the world and countries are doing far too little to stop it, experts say in a series of reports published Friday.
One in three women globally has been a victim of either sexual or physical violence by a partner, the World Health Organization said in a statement released alongside the reports, published in the Lancet medical journal.
“Yet, despite increased global attention to violence perpetrated against women and girls, and recent advances in knowledge about how to tackle these abuses, levels of violence against women — including intimate partner violence, rape, female genital mutilation, trafficking, and forced marriages — remain unacceptably high, with serious consequences for victims’ physical and mental health,” WHO said.
The series, entitled “Violence Against Women and Girls,” calls the violence a “global public health and clinical problem of epidemic proportions,” and the statistics are bleak:
“Between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have undergone female genital mutilation, with more than 3 million girls at risk of the practice every year in Africa alone. Some 70 million girls worldwide have been married before their eighteenth birthday, many against their will,” the authors report.
The researchers said that these problems could only be solved with political action and increased funding, since the violence has continued “despite increased global attention,” implying awareness is not enough.
A lot is down to entrenched systems of patriarchy, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter said in a commentary. “Our society has become increasingly desensitized to violence,” he said.
“Patriarchy must be replaced by a system in which equal human rights and non-violence are promoted and accepted. This will happen if we embrace the kind of love and mutual respect exemplified and preached by the founders of the world’s great religions, and through the persistent efforts of those who speak out and work for a more equal and less violent world.”