|Dying of Sadness: Gender Sexual Violence and the HIV Epidemic (UNDP, 1999, 17 p.)|
Violence against women and girls occurs on a vast scale, and specifically sexually violent acts figure prominently. Available evidence suggests that at least one in five of the world's female population has been physically or sexually abused at some time in their lives. Violence is as significant a cause of death and incapacity among women of reproductive age as cancer, and a greater cause of death than traffic accidents and malaria combined.
Some data exists in relation to sexual violence against men and boys, suggesting the vulnerability of specific groups of men and boys (i.e. those who occupy subordinate positions in relation to other men), of specific settings (all-male institutions such as prisons and the military) and of specific contexts (conflict situations). Women are most likely to be assaulted within the confines of their own family and household, and are more likely to be injured, raped or killed by a current or former intimate partner than by anyone else.
Available data suggest that:
· Between 16-52% of women throughout the world have been assaulted by an intimate partner.
· In the USA, ten women are killed every day by their partners with 74% of these deaths occurring after the women have left the relationship.
· A study of court records in Zimbabwe revealed that 59% of homicides of women were committed by the victim's intimate partner. In Russia nearly half of all murder victims were women murdered by their male partners.
· In Papua New Guinea, 18% of all urban married women had to seek hospital treatment following domestic violence.
· In India, between 1988 and 1993 more than 20,000 women were murdered or committed "suicide" because they were unable to meet demands for increased dowry.
· Seventy percent of the 22,000 divorces in Vietnam during 1991 were sought because of violence.
· In rural China, suicide is thought to account for 30% of healthy years of life lost and in Sri Lanka death from suicide is five times the rate of death from infectious diseases.
· In urban Maharashtra and Greater Mumbai, one in every five deaths among women aged between 15-44 is from "accidental burns" and for younger women this figure is one in four.
· Globally, at least 10-15% of all women report being forced to have sex and that considerable proportions of the victims of sexual assault are less than 15 years old.