Violence and injuries to/against women
Situation and trends
Violence against women is a widespread experience worldwide with serious public health implications and can lead directly to serious injury, disability or death. It can also lead indirectly to a variety of health problems such as stress-induced physiological changes, substance use, or lack of fertility control and personal autonomy as often seen in abusive relationships. Abused women have higher rates of unintended pregnancies, abortions, adverse pregnancies and neonatal and infant outcomes, sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), and mental disorders (such as depression, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders and eating disorders) compared to their non-abused peers. Most violence against women is perpetrated by intimate male partners. Sexual violence, whether by partners, acquaintances or strangers, also affects primarily women and girls. In conflict and post-conflict situations sexual violence is increasingly recognized as a tactic of war.
Violence against women is often related to social and gender bias and, at its most extreme, may lead to violent death or female infanticide. Despite the size of the problem, many women do not report their experiences of violence and do not seek help. As a result, violence against women remains a hidden problem with great human and health-care costs.