Violence against women: ending the global scourge

Author: 
The Lancet
Publication date: 
22 June 2013

Violence against women: ending the global scourge

Maria Stubbings was strangled to death by her ex-boyfriend, who had also killed a previous girlfriend. Christine Chambers complained about violence from a former partner for 2 years before he murdered her. Jeanette Goodwin was stabbed 30 times by an ex-partner in front of her husband. Last week, these victims of intimate partner homicide in the UK were deemed to have been let down by the police in a report by the HM Inspector of Constabulary.
Such violence, however, is not only a failing in law enforcement, nor is it confined to the UK. This week, in The Lancet, we publish online first a systematic review of the global prevalence of intimate partner homicide. It shows that, overall, 13·5% of homicides are committed by an intimate partner, and in female homicides the proportion of such murders is six times higher than in male homicides—38·6% versus 6·3%. This finding is perhaps unsurprising considering the shocking burden of other forms of intimate partner violence that women experience.
On June 20, WHO released the first global systematic review on the prevalence of violence against women. It shows that 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence, making such abuse a “global public health problem of epidemic proportions”. The study also finds that women who have been physically or sexually abused by their partners report higher rates of health problems than women who have not experienced intimate partner violence; they are almost twice as likely to have depression, and, in some regions, are 1·5 times more likely to acquire HIV. They are also more than twice as likely to have an abortion.