WHO: Third of Women Suffer Domestic Violence

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“Over time, if women are coming into a fracture clinic or a pre-natal clinic, they may tell you they are suffering abuse if you ask,” she said.

For domestic violence figures, scientists analyzed information from 86 countries focusing on women over the age of 15. They also assessed studies from 56 countries on sexual violence by someone other than a partner, though they had no data from the Middle East. WHO experts then used modeling techniques to fill in the gaps and to come up with global estimates for the percentage of women who are victims of violence.

In a related paper published online in the journal Lancet, researchers found more than 38 percent of slain women are killed by a former or current partner, six times higher than the rate of men killed by their partners. Heidi Stoeckl, one of the authors at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the figures were likely to be an underestimate. She and colleagues found that globally, a woman’s highest risk of murder was from a current or ex-partner.

In countries like India, Stoeckl said things like “honor killings,” where women are sometimes murdered over dowry disputes or perceived offenses like infidelity to protect the family’s reputation, adds to the problem.

She also noted that women and men are often slain by their partners for different reasons.

“When a woman kills her male partner, it’s usually out of self-defense because she has been abused,” she said. “But when a woman is killed, it’s often after she has left the relationship and the man is killing her out of jealousy or rage.”

Stoeckl said criminal justice authorities should intervene at an earlier stage.

“When a woman is killed by a partner, she has often already had contact with the police,” she said.

Stoeckl said more protective measures should be in place for women from their partners, particularly when he or she has a history of violence and owns a gun.

“There are enough signs that we should be watching out for that,” she said. “We certainly should know if someone is potentially lethal and be able to do something about it.”

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