Dr. Grossi's Blog

Violence Against Women

Dr. Philip Grossi
Friday, 16 August 2013

Violence against women is a world-wide phenomena and is a significant issue for public health and social policy.  The most common form of this violence is intimate partner violence and can express itself in physical, sexual, or psychological forms. The health impact on women can be seen in increased levels of depression and suicidal behavior, increased homicidal deaths of women, and increased acquisition of HIV. These in turn result in increased economic costs.

There is a growing consensus among most countries to promote gender equality and empower women.  These is also a consensus in the research community about studying this problem which has resulted in an expansion in the number of studies examining this violence toward women. A digest of these results shows that globally in 2010 30% of women aged 15 and over have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence. Regional variation in prevalence is noteworthy.  Central Sub-Saharan Africa shows an average percentage of violence toward woman is 65.4%, islands of the tropical pacific region 35.2%, South Asia 41.7 %, Western Europe 19.3%, Middle East 35.4%, and high income North America 21.3%. 

The relatively high prevalence in all regions suggests that efforts at prevention are clearly warranted. Experiences of violence in childhood and later perpetuation of violence in adulthood are definitely associated suggests that preventing child maltreatment is an important intervention.  This would involve changing parenting styles and social norms.  Advanced education of women is associated with lower prevalence of violence although this varies with culture and geography. From the societal level it would be important to convert attitudes that such violence is private into a public concern.  Interventions to put a spotlight on problematic drinking patterns in men which are commonly associated with physical abuse of women.  Laws should be changed to symbolize the unacceptable nature of this behavior and to provide legal recourse. 

Violence toward women is a complex problem and there are no easy or quick solutions.  The interventions should be multiple, varied and cut across social, cultural, legal, economic and educational areas.