Last year, we were shocked to learn from a comprehensive study by the World Health Organisation that more than a third of all women worldwide – 35.6% – will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime; a study that also found that the most likely perpetrator in these cases is a victim’s male partner.
The plight of women throughout the world is a far wider problem than many of us realise. In Europe alone, one in three of all women, or 62 million women, have been a victim of violence during their lifetime.
Recently, we learned more shocking statistics: 44% of women in the UK have been physically or sexually assaulted since the age of 15. These findings are according to the Violence Against Women report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).
According to this study, Denmark is ranked as the European country with the highest percentage of instances of physical or sexual violence, were 52% of women have experienced this since the age of 15.
While Poland is ranked as the European country with the lowest percentage of instances of physical or sexual violence where a fifth, or 19% of women have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15.
These newest findings are from face to face interviews with 42,000 women in the 28 countries that make up the European Union. Participants for this study were aged 19-74 and were asked about their experiences of physical, sexual and psychological violence, as well as issues such as sexual harassment and stalking.
The report also reveals 43% of women in the EU and 46% of women in the UK have been victims of psychological violence. This type of violence includes such atrocities as being humiliated in public to locked indoors, forced to watch pornographic material or being threatened.
The percentage of women who experience harassment is even more shocking with:68% of women in the UK and 55% of women in the EU, having suffered from sexual harassment since the age of 15.
The percentage of women being stalked – aided and abetted by social media and technology – has plagued almost one in five of women, whilst the workplace is another place where women suffer. The study found that a third (32%) of EU victims experienced sexual harassment from a boss, colleague or customer.
Britain ranks among the worst countries in Europe when it comes to women being violently abused, coming fifth worst in terms of violence suffered by women in their lifetime (defined as being since the age of 15).
Out of the 28 European countries, Britain ranks:
- Fourth worst for physical and/or sexual violence by a partner – with almost a third (29%) reporting this, compared to the EU average of 22%.
- Sixth worst for women avoiding places or situations for fear of being physically or sexually assaulted – two-thirds (64%) admit to this, a higher proportion than the EU average of just over half (53%).
- Sixth worst for sexual harassment – more than two-thirds (68%). have suffered this, compared to the EU average of 55%.
These statistics, are not only shocking, but they point to a violence against women epidemic that is simply unacceptable.