Posted: Jun 20, 2013 2:43 PM by Michelle Castillo - CBS News
The World Health Organization implored the medical community and the public to stop sexual and physical violence towards women.
Thirty-five percent of women around the world are victims of physical or sexual violence, according to a report by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the South African Medical Research Council and the WHO released on Tuesday.
Intimate partner violence was the most common, affecting 30 percent of women worldwide. Southeast Asian women were most likely to become victims (37.7 percent reported sexual or physical partner abuse), followed by Eastern Mediterranean women (37.0 percent) and African women (36.6 percent). Women from high income countries like the U.S. and EU member states reported violence by an intimate partner 23.2 percent of the times.
"These findings send a powerful message that violence against women is a global health problem of epidemic proportions," Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, said in a press release. "We also see that the world's health systems can and must do more for women who experience violence."
The study revealed that 38 percent of women who were murdered were killed by their intimate partners, and 42 percent of women who were assaulted physically or sexually by a partner had injuries because of the heinous act.
Heidi Stoeckl, one of the authors who is a gender violence lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, added to the Telegraph that the statistics show that police should step in at an earlier stage before it progresses to murder.
"When a woman is killed by a partner, she has often already had contact with the police," she said.
She added that clues like a partner having a history of violence and owning a gun should be watched.
"There are enough signs that we should be watching out for that," she said. "We certainly should know if someone is potentially lethal and be able to do something about it."
Women who are abused by their partners are twice as likely to experience depression compared to women who were not exposed to physical or sexual violence. They are also twice as likely to have alcohol abuse problems.
Women who were abused by a non-partner were 2.6 times more likely to have depression or anxiety and 2.3 times more likely to have alcohol problems. Women from high-income countries were also the most likely to be victims of violence by a non-partner (12.6 percent of the time).
Regardless if a partner or non-partner sexually or physically abused them, abused women were more likely to a have an unwanted pregnancy. They were twice as likely to have an abortion than women who were not abused. Women who were abused by their partners had a 16 percent higher chance of having a low weight baby.
Women who are subjected to physical or sexual violence by a partner are also 1.5 times more likely to get a syphilis infection, chlamydia, or gonorrhea. In certain areas like sub-Saharan Africa, they are also 1.5 times more likely to get HIV.
The WHO asked health care providers to improve treatment of women who have been subjected to violence. This included teaching medical professionals how to ask about violence, make standard operating procedures about how to approach a victim, conducting the interview in a private setting and ensuring confidentiality and referring women to other related care services. In cases of sexual violence, health services should be provided to address the woman's mental and physical needs.
"The report findings show that violence greatly increases women's vulnerability to a range of short- and long-term health problems; it highlights the need for the health sector to take violence against women more seriously," Dr. Claudia Garcia-Moreno of WHO said in a press release. "In many cases this is because health workers simply do not know how to respond."