of women experience violence in their lifetimes worldwide1
women were killed in 2012 alone by family members or intimate partners2
girls worldwide have been married before the age of 183
- 1. World Health Organisation, Violence against women, intimate partner and sexual violence against women: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs239/en/ ↩
- 2. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Global Study on Homicide: https://www.unodc.org/gsh/ ↩
- 3. Prevention of violence against women and girls: what does the evidence say?, The Lancet: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)61703-7/abstract ↩ ↩
Economic inequality makes women more vulnerable to violence
On virtually every measure, women are economically worse off than men.4 Economic inequality increases women’s risk of being subjected to violence. It undermines their voice and bargaining power at home, work and in wider society, making it harder to leave abusive partners or work situations.
Women who are poor, young, migrant, indigenous, from an ethnic minority, as well as domestic workers, sex workers and those who have been trafficked are most at risk.
Domestic violence is the most prevalent form of abuse suffered by women.
Gender-based violence at work
Abuses faced by women at work range from sexual, physical and psychological harassment, bullying by managers and supervisors, body searches, beatings, forced pregnancy tests, dismissal of pregnant women and violations of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Appalling neglect of workplace safety standards, along with pressure to work long hours in toxic conditions, cause physical and psychological harm, injury and even death.
Women workers courageously seek ways to come together to challenge work-based violence and exploitation. However, they are frequently met with threats and further violence by employers.
Schoolgirls at risk of gender-based violence
Education is a crucial route out of poverty for future generations. But the World Health Organisation estimates that 150 million girls are sexually assaulted every year, with many of these attacks occurring on the way to school or at school.5
Violence against schoolgirls is part of gender discrimination in communities and wider society. Challenging prejudice in communities is central to stopping violence within schools.
ActionAid creates safe spaces like girls’ clubs within schools. Here, girls can discuss their needs and take concrete action to raise awareness of girls’ rights to education and to tackle violence.
Violence and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights
Girls who marry as children are at higher risk of domestic violence than women who choose to marry.7 Girls in many contexts are often married off to the perpetrators of rape or sexual assault. It is a violation of women’s and girls’ sexual health and reproductive rights, and perpetuates other forms of violence including denial of education.
Girls are usually physically and emotionally unprepared for sexual activity, pregnancy and childbirth. Globally, 16 million girls aged 15-19, and 1 million girls under the age of 15, give birth each year.8 Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the second highest cause of death for girls aged 15-19 worldwide.9
Reducing child marriage and the adolescent birth rate is necessary to not only improve the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls, but also to reduce domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.
- 7. Spencer, D. (2015). “TO PROTECT HER HONOUR” Child marriage in emergencies – the fatal confusion between protecting girls and sexual violence. 1st ed. [ebook] London: CARE. Available at: http://insights.careinternational.org.uk/media/k2/attachments/CARE_Child-marriage-in-emergencies_2015.pdf [Accessed 4 Jun. 2017]. ↩
- 8. World Health Organisation (n.d.). Adolescent pregnancy. [online] World Health Organization. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/ factsheets/fs364/en/ [Accessed 4 Jun. 2017]. ↩
- 9. World Health Organisation (n.d.). Adolescent pregnancy. [online] World Health Organization. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/ factsheets/fs364/en/ [Accessed 4 Jun. 2017]. ↩
Women’s rights organisations lead the way
Women’s rights organisations are at the forefront of the struggle to end violence against women, and they hold the key to achieving transformational change. Because their work is strategic, lasting and cost effective, it has successfully transformed the lives of many of the most marginalised women and girls.
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