A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) illuminated a startling fact about violence against women: nearly one in three women around the world has been a victim of physical or sexual violence. 

The report, which was released by the WHO, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), caused WHO chief Margret Chan to call violence against women “a global health problem of epidemic proportions.”

The study also found that 38% of all murdered women were killed at the hands of their partner, the most common type of violence women experience.

According to the BBC, other findings include:

  • 42% of women physically or sexually abused by partners had injuries as a result

  • Victims of non-partner attacks were 2.6 times more likely to experience depression and anxiety compared with women who had not experienced violence

  • Those abused by their partners were almost twice as likely to have similar problems

  • Victims were more likely to have alcohol problems, abortions and acquire sexually transmitted diseases and HIV

Fear and shame were leading factors in keeping women trapped in abusive relationships and reporting their assaults to authorities.

The report analyzed abuse by region and found that while violence was more prevalent in lower and middle-income countries (South-East Asian at 37.7%, the Middle East at 37%, Africa at 36.6%), nearly a quarter of women in higher income countries like Australia, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Israel, the U.K., and the U.S. were still victims of violence.

Due to the findings, the WHO has implored governments from around the world to take the issue of violence against women “more seriously” as it is a rampant problem in both developing and more established countries.

Professor Charlotte Watts, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the BBC, “This new data shows that violence against women is extremely common.”

“We urgently need to invest in prevention to address the underlying causes of this global women’s health problem.”

To see the complete breakdown of violence against women by region, check out the BBC

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