Violence against women is a human rights violation, social justice and public health problem that touches every level of society in every part of the world. From young girls to older women, one out of every three is beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. WHO studies show that intimate partner violence is the most common form of violence against women worldwide.
Violence against women poses serious consequences to women’s health and well-being. Studies have linked violence against women and girls to a host of physical and mental health problems, such as broken bones, unwanted pregnancies, and depression. High-risk behaviors such as smoking, harmful use of alcohol and drugs, and unsafe sex are all significantly more frequent among victims of intimate partner and sexual violence.
The health sector can play a vital role in responding to and preventing violence against women. This role includes helping to identify abuse early, providing victims with treatment, and referring women to appropriate and informed care. The health sector must also work to prevent violence from ever taking place. And as the public health approach to prevention clearly stipulates, the first step in preventing violence is to understand it and the health sector has a key role in helping us to measure and understand violence against women.