Physical and sexual violence against women is extremely common -- most often by their partners -- and many women believe it is acceptable for a man to beat his wife if she disobeys or refuses sex, according to a World Health Organization report released Thursday.
The WHO’s first multi-country study on violence against women found that in the 10 countries surveyed, the percentage of women who had been physically or sexually abused at least once ranged from 20% to 75%. About 24,000 women were interviewed for the study in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Namibia, Peru, Samoa, Serbia and Montenegro, Thailand and Tanzania.
In most survey sites, “four out of five abused women were abused by their partners,” said Geneva-based Henrica Jansen, one of the study’s researchers.
“Women are more at risk at home than in the streets,” Jansen said at a news conference in Bangkok.
The report found that more than three-quarters of women in cities in Brazil, Japan, Namibia and Serbia and Montenegro said violence was never justified, but only a quarter thought so in rural areas of Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru and Samoa.
In all sites surveyed, the most widely accepted justification for violence was infidelity.