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Yash Tiwari
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At least three out of four perpetrators in these cases were men, most often a current or former husband or boyfriend, according to the study. Women are more likely than men to experience multiple forms of sexual violence throughout their lifetime and as adults, they experienced four times the amount of non-partner sexual and physical violence compared with men. The prevalence of intimate partner violence is highest in South Asia, with almost 1 in 4 women being subjected to emotional or physical violence from a partner. In the region, the lifetime rate of physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by a partner in Bangladesh (72 percent), India (74 percent), and the Philippines (67 percent) is near twice the global average of 35 percent.

Even more alarming is the fact that violence against women that starts so young continues for longer. The number of girls who experience sexual violence before they turn 18 is almost as high as the number of women who experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner: 1.5 million girls under 18 are subjected to sexual violence every year, nearly twice as many as a decades ago. The report aims to highlight the huge health burden that violence against women continues to have on individuals and societies as a whole. This will allow health authorities, institutions, and individuals to estimate more accurately the impacts on lost productivity, increased healthcare spending, and patients who are managing chronic conditions associated with violence, which tend to be underreported and not always fully understood.

Around one in three women in the world will, at some point in their lives, experience either physical or sexual violence or both. At the same time, it is also a major barrier to achieving gender equality. All forms of violence against women are conductive to gender inequality and discriminatory practices such as early marriage and female genital mutilation. The impact of rape is immense, causing death (10% of women globally report having been killed following a sexual assault), disability, and permanent physical damage to reproductive and other organs.

Violence against women and girls is preventable but requires concerted and coordinated efforts by the individuals, communities, and the state to address unequal power relations and other structural factors that perpetuate violence. Protecting women’s rights is a critical step in reducing violent crime, and this is not just about legal reform. Most acts of violence against women are committed by someone known to the victim – a partner or other family member – and studies show that abusive behavior is usually learned through socialization in the home.