QotD: “35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partnered sexual violence at some point in their lives.”

More or Less is a BBC Radio 4 programme that investigates the use of statistics in everyday media; today’s broadcast looks at an advert by the UK branch of UN Women about rates of sexual violence against women and girls, called ‘Draw a Line’.

The programme is available on iPlayer; it’s the first segment, and approximately six minutes long, so it’s a quick and easy listen.

The first thing is that they confirm the statistic that two women a week in the UK are murdered by a current or ex-partner.

Next, they look at the claim that, for 1 in 3 girls, their first sexual experience is coerced, which is more complicated. The claim comes from a 2005 WHO report, which studied ten different countries, all of which have very different rates of sexual violence.

14-30% of women in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru, and Tanzania, reported being forced to have sex, while fewer than 1% of women in cities in Serbia, Montenegro and Japan described their first sexual experience as forced. The big difference is due to age, in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru, and Tanzania the women were reporting rape from within child marriages (when they were girls under the age of fifteen).

The presenter interviewed Claudia Garcia-Moreno, the woman who co-authored the report, who doesn’t think we have the data yet to support the 1 in 3 claim globally; she and her team are still working on violence against women and girls, and have collated studies on physical and sexual violence against women and girls from around 75 countries, and have come to the conclusion that:

“35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partnered sexual violence at some point in their lives.”

The figure of a third is one that keeps recurring in different studies from around the world (but there are many countries with no data collection at all). The Crime Survey for England and Wales shows that around a third of women report experiencing domestic abuse at some point in their lives.

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