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One in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence from their partner, while 7% will be assaulted at some point in their lives by a non-partner, say the authors of a new series of papers in the Lancet.
They conclude that too little is being done to counter violence against women, which is endemic around the globe.
Even though the issue is attracting more attention and there is greater knowledge about how to protect women, violence – including intimate-partner violence, rape, FGM, trafficking and forced marriages – remains unacceptably high. Between 100 million and 140 million girls and women have suffered FGM, with more than 3 million girls at risk every year in Africa alone. Some 70 million girls worldwide have been married before their 18th birthday, many against their will.
The papers call for governments to take action on the underlying causes. Blaming the perpetrators because of personality or mental health disorders, or their own history of sexual or alcohol abuse, is inadequate, say the researchers. Economic, social and political factors also play a part and governments should address them.
“In many regions in the past 50 years, women’s status has improved markedly. In too many settings, however, women remain second-class citizens, are discriminated against, and made subservient to men. Even where women enjoy many freedoms, the fear and reality of male violence persists,” write Dr Claudia Garcia-Moreno, of the World Health Organisation in Geneva, and colleagues.