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Opinion Piece, Editorial Address WHO Report On Violence Against Women

According to a new report from the WHO, published in partnership with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the South African Medical Research Council, 35 percent of women worldwide are victims of sexual or physical violence. The following opinion piece and editorial address the report’s findings.

  • The Lancet: As part of the WHO’s publication, the editorial notes that The Lancet this week “publish[ed] online … a systematic review of the global prevalence of intimate partner homicide.” The editorial continues, “Awareness of violence against women as a health problem (and not just a criminal justice or domestic issue) is still low in many countries and, in some nations, the attitudes of health workers towards women disclosing such violence can be more negative than supportive. These latest reports should help counteract this situation.” In addition, “[g]overnments should also act to end violence against their female citizens,” the editorial states, continuing, “Sadly, nowhere in the world is a woman safe from violence. But global momentum for change is building” (6/20). “The findings and their implications for public health are discussed in a comment, editorial, and podcast,” the journal’s homepage notes (6/21).
  • Claudia Garcia Moreno Esteva, Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog: “If violence against women were a sudden new disease outbreak, it would make headline news,” Esteva, WHO lead specialist for gender, reproductive rights, sexual health and adolescence, writes, adding, “Nevertheless, today’s report highlights the fact that violence against women represents a major public health issue: ‘a global health problem of epidemic proportions,’ says Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director General of the [WHO].” She continues, “We have gone from having to prove that this is a problem in the first place to countries acknowledging that this is a problem that needs urgent action. … We have gone from not knowing much about the extent of the problem to having global data and looking at what works to prevent it.” She adds, “A life free of violence is a basic human right, one that every woman, man and child deserves” (6/20).