THE UNITED NATIONS FACT SHEET ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Violence against women takes many forms – physical, sexual, psychological and economic. These forms of violence are interrelated and affect women from before birth to old age. Some types of violence, such as trafficking, cross national boundaries. Women who experience violence suffer a range of health problems and their ability to participate in public life is diminished.
Violence against women and girls is not confined to any particular political or economic system, but it is prevalent in every society in the world. It cuts across boundaries of wealth, race and culture. It is an expression of historically and culturally specific values and standards that are still executed today through many social and political institutions that foster women’s subservience and discrimination against women and girls.
International and regional legal instruments have clarified the obligations of States to prevent, eradicate and punish violence against women and girls. The Convention on the Elimina¬tion of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) requires that countries party to the Convention take all appropriate steps to end violence. However, the continued preva¬lence of violence against women and girls demonstrates that this global pandemic of alarming proportions is yet to be tackled with all the necessary political commitment, action and resources.
In countries around the world, millions of women and girls are beaten by their partners, sub¬jected to forced sex, genitally mutilated or killed in the name of honor. Violence threatens women and girls in multiple forms during conflict. From the female child soldiers who are routinely raped by their own troops and the civilian women and girls who are raped and murdered as a tactic of war, to the escalation of violence within the family as troops return home, armed conflicts have a devastating and desperate impact on women and girls that goes far beyond the inherent violence of war.
The direct economic costs of violence against women and girls are enormous, in terms of lost working time, lost earnings and medical expenditure. The indirect costs of limiting the active role that women and girls can take in the development of their community are unquantifiable.
Countries have made some progress and initiatives to address and prevent violence against women and girls have increased throughout the world in recent years. However, gaps still remain in too many countries.