<p> 27 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence </p>

27 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence

One in four women under 50 have been abused by a male partner, study finds

Almost a quarter of girls experience intimate partner violence before the age of 20

Saman Javed
Wednesday 16 February 2022 23:35
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More than one in four women across the world have experienced domestic violence by a male partner, according to new estimates.

Researchers from the World Health Organisation analysed data from 336 studies carried out by the Global Database on Prevalence of Violence Against Women between 2000-2018.

They found that 27 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

But experts estimate the true prevalence is likely to be higher given the stigma around domestic violence, which may make women less likely to report their experiences.

The research, published in The Lancet journal, suggests that domestic violence starts early, with 24 per cent of teenagers aged 15 to 19 experiencing intimate partner violence.

Additionally, the cohort of women aged between 20 and 24 had the highest estimated prevalence of recent violence, with 16 per cent experiencing it in the last 12 months of the survey.

Lynnmarie Sardinha, a lead author of the study, said violence against young women has a long-lasting impact on their health and wellbeing.

“The high number of young women experiencing intimate partner violence is alarming, as adolescence and early adulthood are important life stages when the foundations for healthy relationships are built,” Sardinha said.

The studies analysed spanned 161 countries and accounted for two million girls aged 15 years and over.

The analysis only estimated physical and sexual violence, with work under way to capture better data on psychologically harmful behaviour.

Overall, the findings suggest that high-income countries have lower rates of intimate partner violence.

The three regions with lowest lifetime estimates were central Europe (16 per cent), central Asia (18 per cent), and western Europe (20 per cent), although these rates are still high.

Dr Claudia Garcia-Moreno, another author of the study, said progress made over the last 20 years is “grossly insufficient” to meet the international target for eliminating violence against women by 2030.

“Although this study took place before the Covid-19 pandemic, the numbers are alarming and research has shown the pandemic exacerbated issues leading to intimate partner violence such as isolation, depression and anxiety, and alcohol use, as well as reducing access to support services,” she said.

“Preventing intimate partner violence from happening in the first place is vital and urgent.

“Governments, societies and communities need to take heed, invest more, and act with urgency to reduce violence against women, including by addressing it in post-Covid reconstruction efforts.”

The study was part-funded by the UK Department for International Development, which has now merged with the Foreign Office.

Rebecca Hitchen, head of policy and campaigns at the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said the findings are “appalling but unsurprising”.

“In the UK, this is happening against a backdrop of declining charging and prosecution of perpetrators, and gaps in support for migrant survivors who are excluded from legal protections.

“These new findings highlight the urgent need for work to prevent abuse of women and girls, including the prioritisation and proper funding of work in schools and public campaigns to shift the attitudes and inequalities that drive abuse.”

In July 2021, the UK published its long-awaited Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls strategy.

In its strategy, the government said it it will review options to limit the use of non-disclosure agreements in cases of sexual harassment in higher education, and that it is considering a specific offence for public sexual harassment.

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