The United Nations released a report late last week officially classifying violence against women as a human rights violation, increasing pressure on states in the UN to intensify and improve systems in place for handling violence against women. Calling violence against women “unacceptable,” the report goals included: to survey the pervasiveness of violence against women around the world; to remind UN states of the importance of this issue; to find better, more effective ways to combat violence against women; and to increase accountability of UN states for violations of women’s human rights.
“Violence against women persists in every country in the world as a pervasive violation of human rights and a major impediment to achieving gender equality…. [As] long as violence against women continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace,” declares the introduction to the report.
The release of the UN report coincides with the publication of the most comprehensive and systematic study of international domestic violence by the World Health Organization (WHO). At 13 out of the 15 sites studied, more than 25 percent of women said they had experienced moderate to severe domestic violence in the last year. At six of the 15 sites, over 50 percent of women had experienced a moderate to severe level of domestic violence. The study found that rural Ethiopia had the highest rate of domestic violence, with 71 percent of women experiencing violence in the home. Yokohama, Japan had the lowest rate at 15 percent.
Close to 25,000 women were interviewed in ten countries for the WHO study. Previous domestic violence studies have focused mostly on the US and other developed nations. Studies conducted in the US and European Union have found domestic violence rates of 20 to 25 percent, though the number is likely to be underreported, according to the New York Times.