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Study finds sexual violence against women "endemic" in some countries

The study revealed that an estimated one in 14 women worldwide have been sexually assaulted by someone other than their partner.

Image: sexual violence via Shutterstock

ONE IN 14 women across the world have been sexually assaulted by someone other than their partner, new research has revealed.

Published by The Lancet, the research covers 56 countries and was compiled from 77 individual studies that recorded women’s experiences of sexual violence by anyone except intimate partners.

The information revealed that one in five women in sub-Saharan Africa had experienced such violence, followed a rate of 17.4 per cent in the southern sub-Saharan regions of Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

New Zealand and Australia are also highlighted by the study as having a rate of 16.4 per cent.

India

The lowest rate reported was in India and Bangladesh of 3.3 per cent.

Western Europe, consisting of Switzerland, Spain, Isle of Man, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Germany,  recorded an above average rate at 11.5 per cent.

“We found that sexual violence is a common experience for women worldwide, and in some regions is endemic, reaching more than 15 per cent in four regions,” Professor Naeemah Abrahams from the South African Medical Research Council in Cape Town said.

However, regional variations need to be interpreted with caution because of differences in data availability and levels of disclosure.

The authors of the report stressed that insufficient information is available from many countries, and that the true magnitude of the issue is not available.

Poor quality data

This is due to the poor quality of some data, but also due to the stigma related to sexual violence and how it may go unreported.

Dr Abrahams added that “population-based data on levels of sexual violence” is needed if government’s are to develop appropriate policies and responses.

“[This includes] primary prevention interventions and comprehensive services to treat victims of sexual assaults,” she said.

An abstract from the study is available online here.

Read: One quarter of women experience physical or sexual violence from a partner >

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Nicky Ryan

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