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 the most common form 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.

1 in 2

Worldwide, 1 in 2 women killed were killed by their partners or family in 2012. Only 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, UNODC, 2013

Laws must protect women

  • 2/3

    Two-thirds of countries have outlawed domestic violence.

  • 37

    37 countries exempt rape perpetrators from prosecution when they are married to or subsequently marry the victim.

Source Women, Business and the Law,
World Bank Group, 2016

Sexual Violence
and Harassment

What is
sexual violence & harassment?

Sexual violence is any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person 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:

  • Unwanted 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


In some countries, up to one-third of adolescent girls report their first sexual experience as being forced.

Source Hidden in Plain Sight: A Statistical Analysis of Violence against Children, UNICEF, 2014

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 sexually exploited.

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

Almost750 Million

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


girls in West and Central Africa were married before age 18 and about 1 in 7 were married or in union before age 15.

Source Is Every Child Counted? Status of Data for Children in the SDGs, UNICEF, 2017

End violence against women and girls