Addressing the epidemic of violence against women

News release

V. Lardizabal

Nearly a quarter of women (24.6%) in the low- and middle-income countries of the World Health Organization Western Pacific Region have been victims of violence by an intimate partner.

When also taking into account sexual violence by a non-partner, the figure rises to 27.9%.

These estimates are according to a new report by the World Health Organization in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council.

The report, Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence, sends a powerful message that violence against women is not limited to pockets of society, but rather a global problem of epidemic proportions that requires urgent action.

"This is completely unacceptable," says WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr Shin Young-soo. “The Region's governments must scale up multisectoral efforts to prevent and respond to violence against women. Policy-makers must deliberate intensively, discuss openly and map out their roles in allocating resources that will help to identify abuse early, provide victims with necessary treatment and refer them to appropriate care.”

Globally, 30% of women have been victims of violence by an intimate partner. When taking into account sexual violence by a non-partner, the global figure rises to 35.6%.

The report and the new WHO clinical and policy guidelines, Responding to intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women, were released yesterday in Geneva.

The WHO regional offices for the Western Pacific and for South-East Asia will take part in the Asia-Pacific regional launch of the report and guidelines on 26 June in Bangkok, Thailand. The event is the regional roll out of the clinical and policy guidelines for the health sector response to intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women.

"Violence against women needs to move out of the shadows and into the light," Dr Shin says. "The full dimensions of the problem need to be recognized and urgently acted upon. This report takes a giant step forward towards the accomplishment of those critically important goals."

For more information, please contact:

Ms Debbie Gray
Technical Officer, Health and Human Rights
Telephone: +632 528 9891
E-mail: grayd@wpro.who.int

Mr Ruel E. Serrano
Assistant, Public Information Office
Telephone: +632 528 8001
E-mail: serranor@wpro.who.int

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