Violence Against Women

Violence Against Women

Facts everyone should know

Whether at home, on the streets or during war, violence against women and girls is a human rights violation of pandemic proportions that takes place in public and private spaces.

Explore how violence against women and girls manifests itself in physical, sexual and psychological forms.

Intimate Partner Violence

What is
intimate partner violence?

Intimate partner violence is any behaviour by a current or former partner or spouse that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm. This is one of the most common forms of violence experienced by women globally.

Fast   Facts

1 in 3

Worldwide, 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence — mostly by an intimate partner. When accounting for sexual harassment, this figure is even higher.

1 in 2

Worldwide, 1 in 2 women killed were killed by their partners or family in 2012. In contrast, 1 out of 20 of all men killed were killed in such circumstances.

Source Global and regional estimates of violence against women, WHO, 2013;
Global Study on Homicide 2013, UNODC, 2014

Laws must protect women

  • 3/4

    Almost three quarters of the world’s countries have outlawed domestic violence.

  • 78

    78 countries have legislation that explicitly criminalizes marital rape.

Source Women, Business and the Law 2018,
World Bank Group, 2018

Sexual Violence
and Harassment

What is
sexual violence & harassment?

Sexual violence is any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwelcome sexual comments, advances or other acts of sexual harassment, including against a person’s sexuality, by any person (mostly men) regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting.

Sexually violent acts can take place in different circumstances and settings.

These include, for example:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances

    or sexual harassment, including demanding sex in return for favours.

  • Rape

    (within marriage and relationships, by strangers, and during armed conflict).

  • Sexual abuse of children

  • Forced marriage

    or cohabitation, including child marriage.

Fast   Facts

15 million

Approximately 15 million adolescent girls (aged 15 to 19) worldwide have experienced forced sex at some point in their life.

Source A Familiar Face: Violence in the lives of children and adolescents, UNICEF, 2017

45% to 55%

of women have experienced sexual harassment since the age of 15 in the European Union.

Source Violence against women: An EU-wide survey, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2014

Human Trafficking
and Sexual Exploitation

What is
human trafficking?

Human trafficking is the acquisition and exploitation of people, through means, such as force, fraud, coercion, or deception. This heinous crime ensnares millions of women and girls worldwide, many of whom are sexually exploited.

Fast Facts


of all trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls.

3 out of 4

trafficked women and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Source Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, UNODC, 2016

Female Genital

What is
female genital mutilation?

FGM includes procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Beyond extreme physical and psychological pain, the practice carries many health risks, including death.

Fast   Facts

200 Million

At least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone FGM in 30 countries where representative data is available.


In most of these countries, the majority of girls were cut before age 5.

Source Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A global concern, UNICEF, 2016

Child Marriage

What is
the impact of child marriage?

Child marriage usually means an end to girl’s education, vocation and her right to make life choices. Research confirms that girls who marry in childhood are at greater risk for intimate partner violence than girls of the same age who marry later.

Fast   Facts

650 Million

women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday.


girls in West and Central Africa were married before age 18.

Source Child Marriage: Latest Trends and Future Prospects, UNICEF, 2018

End violence against women and girls