At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime — with the abuser usually someone known to her. Violence against women and girls is a universal problem of pandemic proportions. Perhaps the most pervasive human rights violation that we know today, it devastates lives, fractures communities, and stalls development.
Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime — with the abuser usually someone known to her . Perhaps the most pervasive human rights violation that we know today, it devastates lives, fractures communities, and stalls development.
Statistics paint a horrifying picture of the social and health consequences of violence against women. For women aged 15 to 44 years, violence is a major cause of death and disability . In a 1994 study based on World Bank data about ten selected risk factors facing women in this age group, rape and domestic violence rated higher than cancer, motor vehicle accidents, war and malaria . Moreover, several studies have revealed increasing links between violence against women and HIV/AIDS. Women who have experienced violence are at a higher risk of HIV infection: a survey among 1,366 South African women showed that women who were beaten by their partners were 48 percent more likely to be infected with HIV than those who were not .
The economic cost of violence against women is considerable — a 2003 report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the costs of intimate partner violence in the United States alone exceed US$5.8 billion per year: US$4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly US$1.8 billion . Violence against women impoverishes individuals, families and communities, reducing the economic development of each nation .
In 1996, the United Nations General Assembly established the UN Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women. The Trust Fund is managed by UNIFEM and is the only multilateral grant-making mechanism that supports local, national and regional efforts to combat violence. Since it began operations in 1997, the Trust Fund has awarded more than US$19 million to 263 initiatives to address violence against women in 115 countries. Raising awareness of women’s human rights, these UNIFEM-supported efforts have linked activists and advocates from all parts of the world; shown how small, innovative projects impact laws, policies and attitudes; and has begun to break the wall of silence by moving the issue onto public agendas everywhere.
In a video message on 26 November 2007, UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman helped UNIFEM launch a new Internet campaign in an effort to shed light on the problem of violence against women and help to eradicate it. She called the violence many women worldwide face an appalling human rights violation that can be stopped, and asked everyone to add their names to a growing number of supporters saying “NO” to violence against women at www.saynotoviolence.org. “The more names we collect, the stronger our case to make ending violence against women a top priority for governments everywhere.”