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WHO study: Third of women suffer domestic violence

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, March 5, 2013 file photo people hold banners during a demonstration against domestic violence near Big Ben in London, in the lead up to International Women's Day. About a third of women worldwide have been physically or sexually assaulted by a former or current partner, according to the first major review of violence against women. In a series of papers released on Thursday June 20, 2013 by the World Health Organization and others, experts estimated nearly 40 percent of women killed worldwide were slain by an intimate partner and that being assaulted by a partner was the most common kind of violence experienced by women. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

    FILE - In this Tuesday, March 5, 2013 file photo people hold banners during a demonstration against domestic violence near Big Ben in London, in the lead up to International Women's Day. About a third of women worldwide have been physically or sexually assaulted by a former or current partner, according to the first major review of violence against women. In a series of papers released on Thursday June 20, 2013 by the World Health Organization and others, experts estimated nearly 40 percent of women killed worldwide were slain by an intimate partner and that being assaulted by a partner was the most common kind of violence experienced by women. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

  • In this Thursday, July 30, 2009 file photo Shoes representing female victims of violence are displayed by protesters from the Chilean Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence in Santiago. (AP Photo/Santiago Llanquin, File)

    In this Thursday, July 30, 2009 file photo Shoes representing female victims of violence are displayed by protesters from the Chilean Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence in Santiago. (AP Photo/Santiago Llanquin, File)

  • In this Friday, Nov. 25, 2011 file photo, candles for the victims of domestic violence burn during a protest in Bucharest, Romania. About a third of women worldwide have been physically or sexually assaulted by a former or current partner, according to the first major review of violence against women. In a series of papers released on Thursday June 20, 2013 by the World Health Organization and others, experts estimated nearly 40 percent of women killed worldwide were slain by an intimate partner and that being assaulted by a partner was the most common kind of violence experienced by women. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

    In this Friday, Nov. 25, 2011 file photo, candles for the victims of domestic violence burn during a protest in Bucharest, Romania. About a third of women worldwide have been physically or sexually assaulted by a former or current partner, according to the first major review of violence against women. In a series of papers released on Thursday June 20, 2013 by the World Health Organization and others, experts estimated nearly 40 percent of women killed worldwide were slain by an intimate partner and that being assaulted by a partner was the most common kind of violence experienced by women. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, March 5, 2013 file photo people hold banners during a demonstration against domestic violence near Big Ben in London, in the lead up to International Women's Day. About a third of women worldwide have been physically or sexually assaulted by a former or current partner, according to the first major review of violence against women. In a series of papers released on Thursday June 20, 2013 by the World Health Organization and others, experts estimated nearly 40 percent of women killed worldwide were slain by an intimate partner and that being assaulted by a partner was the most common kind of violence experienced by women. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
  • In this Thursday, July 30, 2009 file photo Shoes representing female victims of violence are displayed by protesters from the Chilean Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence in Santiago. (AP Photo/Santiago Llanquin, File)
  • In this Friday, Nov. 25, 2011 file photo, candles for the victims of domestic violence burn during a protest in Bucharest, Romania. About a third of women worldwide have been physically or sexually assaulted by a former or current partner, according to the first major review of violence against women. In a series of papers released on Thursday June 20, 2013 by the World Health Organization and others, experts estimated nearly 40 percent of women killed worldwide were slain by an intimate partner and that being assaulted by a partner was the most common kind of violence experienced by women. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)

In the first major global review of violence against women, a series of reports released yesterday found that about a third of women have been physically or sexually assaulted by a former or current partner.

The head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, called it “a global health problem of epidemic proportions,” and other experts said screening for domestic violence should be added to all levels of health care.

Among the findings: 40 percent of women killed worldwide were slain by an intimate partner, and being assaulted by a partner was the most common kind of violence experienced by women.

Researchers used a broad definition of domestic violence, and in cases where country data was incomplete, estimates were used to fill in the gaps. WHO defined physical violence as being slapped, pushed, punched, choked or attacked with a weapon. Sexual violence was defined as being physically forced to have sex, having sex for fear of what the partner might do and being compelled to do something sexual that was humiliating or degrading.

The report also examined rates of sexual violence against women by someone other than a partner and found about 7 percent of women worldwide had previously been a victim.

In conjunction with the report, WHO issued guidelines for authorities to spot problems earlier and said all health workers should be trained to recognize when women may be at risk and how to respond appropriately.

Globally, the WHO review found 30 percent of women are affected by domestic or sexual violence by a partner. The report was based largely on studies from 1983 to 2010. According to the United Nations, more than 600 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime.

The rate of domestic violence against women was highest in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, where 37 percent of women experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner at some point in their lifetimes. The rate was 30 percent in Latin America and 23 percent in North America. In Europe and Asia, it was 25 percent.

Some experts said screening for domestic violence should be added to all levels of health care, such as obstetric clinics.

“It’s unlikely that someone would walk into an ER and disclose they’ve been assaulted,” said Sheila Sprague of McMaster University in Canada, who has researched domestic violence in women at orthopedic clinics. She was not connected to the WHO report.

However, “over time, if women are coming into a fracture clinic or a pre-natal clinic, they may tell you they are suffering abuse if you ask,” she said.

For domestic violence figures, scientists analyzed information from 86 countries focusing on women and teens over the age of 15. They also assessed studies from 56 countries on sexual violence by someone other than a partner, though they had no data from the Middle East. WHO experts then used modeling techniques to come up with global estimates for the percentage of women who are victims of violence.

I find this hard to believe that one in 4 women (approximately) in this country experience domestic violence. Moreover, many of these women stay in the relationship and keep going back to men or hooking up with men who abuse them like their husbands did. It is as much a commentary on mental health as it is abuse. I think someone is watching too much Lifetime Network, it seems as if it is always the man who is to blame. This is more divide and conquer tactics, pitting men against women in this case. I do, however, believe, that in other areas of the world like the Middle East, 35% abuse rates are way under estimated. And who really trusts the WHO?

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