Love kills


The disturbing prevalence of violence against women

THE figures are chilling. More than one-third of all homicides of women are committed by a current or former partner. And nearly a third of women report having experienced violence at some point in their lives, either physical or sexual, at the hands of a partner. In linked studies published today, a regional breakdown shows the wide disparity of violence against women across the world. The first, released in the Lancet, a medical journal, looks at homicide. The authors reviewed published studies and conducted surveys of official sources to gain data for 66 countries from 1983 to 2011. They estimate that 13.5% of all homicides are committed by an intimate partner, and women are six times more likely than men to be killed by their partner.

Two other reports, by the World Health Organisation and one released in Science, a journal, are based on data from 141 studies in 81 countries from 1983 to 2012. They are the first attempt at a systematic study of global data on the prevalence of violence against women. As a result, the quantity of data available varies. Data for central sub-Saharan Africa, east Asia, and southern Latin America, and for women over 49, were scarce. (The regional breakdown by country can be found here.) Still, the findings are grim. Where 30% of women have experienced either physical or sexual violence at the hands of a partner, an additional 7% report sexual violence from someone who is not their partner.

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