WHO: A “Global Health Epidemic” For Women

A profile image of a businesswoman against a dark backgroundAccording to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) first major review of violence against women, more than a third of all women worldwide are victims of domestic violence, including physical and/or sexual, posing a series of global health issues of epidemic proportions.

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Women are attacked by their husbands or boyfriends tend to suffer from very specific acute and chronic health problems, including broken bones, bruises, pregnancy complications, depression, alcohol-related health disorders and other mental illnesses, according to the report. Violence against women can also lead to sexually transmitted infections, and alcohol-related health disorders.

The report, co-authored by Watts and Claudia Garcia-Moreno of the WHO, found that almost two fifths (38 percent) of all women murder victims were murdered by intimate partners, and 42 percent of women who have been victims of physical or sexual violence by a partner have injuries as a result.

Additionally, women who suffer violence from their partners are 1.5 times more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, syphilis, Chlamydia, or gonorrhea.

“This is an everyday reality for many, many women,” Charlotte Watts, a health policy expert at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and one of the report’s authors, told Reuters in an interview…it does illustrate this happens to all women, not just poor women, or women in a certain country. This really is a global issue,” Watts said

The WHO is issuing guidelines for health workers on how to help women suffering domestic or sexual abuse, stressing the importance of training health workers to recognize when women may be at risk of partner violence and to know how to respond, including providing private consultation rooms, and ensuring that at-risk women are not sent back home.

In a statement accompanying the report WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the violence had caused health problems of “epidemic proportions”, adding: “The world’s health systems can and must do more for women who experience violence.”

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