Facts and Figures: Ending Violence against Women and Girls

Photo credit: UN Women/Caitlin Clifford

Violence against women takes multiple forms.

  • Only 52 countries worldwide have passed laws on marital rape as of 2015.[1] Intimate partner violence is the most common form of domestic violence. Intimate partner violence includes assault and coercive behaviour , such as physical, sexual and psychological attacks by a current or former intimate partner.
  • In most cases of sexual violence, the perpetrator is not a stranger, but a partner, a family member, a friend or a neighbour. Ninety-one per cent of survivors in Thailand and 86 per cent of survivors in Vietnam stated that they knew their rapist prior to the incident.[2]
  • In Asia and the Pacific, the proportion of women who reported having experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, varies greatly by country: while it is 15 per cent in Bhutan, Japan, Lao PDR and the Philippines, the proportion reaches 68 per cent , in Kiribati and Papua New Guinea.[3]
  • In the past 12 months alone, 46 per cent of women in Afghanistan and Timor-Leste experienced intimate partner violence.[4]
  • Although the percentage of women and girls intentionally killed by their intimate partners or family members is greatest in Africa, Asia hosts the largest number of women and girls killed overall. [5]
  • Over 54 per cent of women in Bangladesh and 64 per cent of women in Fiji experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.[6]
  • In China, 38 per cent of women experienced psychological violence by their own partners.[7]
  • Violence against women is a common problem in the Pacific islands: In Nauru, over 47 per cent of women fell victim to sexual violence in their lifetime, by a perpetrator who was not their current or former partner,[8] while 28 per cent of women in Vanuatu stated that their first sexual experience was forced.[9]
  • In East Asia and the Pacific, women and girls make up 77 per cent of trafficked persons[10] and the most frequently detected form of exploitation among trafficked persons in this region is sexual exploitation, making up 61 per cent of detected cases.[11]
  • Most detected survivors of trafficking are female and in Southeast Asia more girls are detected than women. For example, in Thailand, 52 per cent of detected victims of trafficking in 2014 were underage girls.[12]
  • Bride trafficking is also an issue: 4 per cent of trafficked persons in East Asia and the Pacific, mostly in the Mekong area, were trafficked for the purpose of forced marriages between 2012 and 2014.[13]
  • In Indonesia, 49 per cent of girls aged 0 to 14 have undergone some form of female genital mutilation,[14] although it is outlawed.[15]
  • About 650 million girls and women alive today have been married before reaching the age of 18 and 44 per cent of all child brides are from South Asia, and 12 per cent are from East Asia and the Pacific. [16]
  • Violence against women in the Asia-Pacific region is also perpetrated through sexual and street harassment, menstruation stigmatization and lack of access to hygiene products, dowry-related violence, forced marriage, digital harassment and cyberviolence, marital rape and lack of access to justice and survivor-centred support systems.

Cost of Violence against Women

There are direct costs to the economy, business, companies, and society at large from violence against women.

  • In Viet Nam, direct costs of intimate partner violence represent 21 per cent of women’s monthly income and intimate partner violence survivors earn 35 per cent less than women not abused.[17]
  • In Sri Lanka, 16 per cent of surveyed women who experienced intimate partner violence reported having to take days off work and 32 per cent reported having to seek medical attention for injuries.[18]
  • In Cambodia, 20 per cent of the women who experienced intimate partner violence reported that they missed work and their children missed school.[19]
  • In Papua New Guinea, on average, each female employee surveyed lost 11 days of work per year as a result of the impacts of violence (five days of absenteeism, two days of presenteeism and four days helping other victims of gender-based violence).[20]

UN Women is working with researchers to conduct a study on the costs of sexual harassment and intimate partner violence to businesses in two countries in Southeast Asia and one country in South Asia. 

Our Solutions

UN Women partners with justice, police, health and social services providers to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. UN Women supports improving access to quality multi-sectoral services to respond to the needs of survivors, such as shelter, health care, legal assistance and police protection as well as other essential services.

Women’s right to live free from violence is upheld by international agreements such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), especially through General Recommendations 19 and 35, and the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.  UN Women works with countries at the global level to advance the international normative framework through support provided to inter-governmental processes, such as the General Assembly and the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). At the country level, UN Women supports Governments in adopting and enacting legal reforms aligned with international standards.

UN Women works to prevent violence before it happens by addressing root causes. We collaborate with educational and faith-based institutions to transform society’s norms. We mobilize activists dedicated to ending violence. We engage men, boys and youth to promote healthy masculinities by strategically using media and sports. We partner with Governments, UN agencies, civil society organizations and other institutions to advocate for ending violence, increase awareness of the causes and consequences of violence and build the capacity of partners to prevent and respond to violence. We also promote the need for changing norms and behaviour of men and boys, and advocate for gender equality and women’s rights. Policy guidance helps to step up investments in prevention—the most cost-effective, long-term means to stop violence.

UN Women supports the passage and enforcement of laws and policies. We work with governments to develop dedicated national action plans to prevent and address violence against women, strengthening coordination among diverse actors for sustained and meaningful action. We advocate for the integration of violence in key international, regional and national frameworks, such as the post-2015 development agenda, and evidence and data collection to inform policies and approaches. Data collection is supported by the ASEAN VAW Data Guidelines. Developed with the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the guidelines directly respond to the strategic needs expressed by ASEAN government officials to be able to better report on SDG indicators and clarify the different purposes of the different types of VAW data: prevalence, administrative and costing data.

Progress on EVAW in the Asia-Pacific region

  • Ninety per cent90 per centof countries in the region now have dedicated laws on ending violence against women, compared to less than 50 per cent in 2010.
  • A third of the countries in the region have now criminalized marital rape.
  • Nine countries now have dedicated National Action Plans which are active as of 2018.
  • In November 2015, ASEAN Member States adopted the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence against Women.[21]
  • As of 2019, 26 countries have national statistics on intimate partner violence.[22]
  • Twenty-four countries conducted national prevalence studies on violence against women.
  • At least one prevalence survey on violence against women was completed in 31 out of 37 countries in the region as of 2019.[23]
  • As of 2019, 19 countries have national statistics on sexual violence by non-partners.[24]

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[1] UN (2015) The World’s Women 2015

[2] UN Women, UNDP and UNODC 2017: Trial of Rape – Understanding the criminal justice system response to sexual violence in Thailand and Viet Nam, Summary Report, p. 9

[3] UNFPA (2019) KnowVAWData

[4] UNFPA (2019) KnowVAWData

[5] UNODC (2018) Global Study on Homicide Gender Related Killing of Women and Girls

[6] UNFPA (2019) KnowVAWData

[7] UNFPA (2019) KnowVAWData

[8] UNFPA (2019) KnowVAWData

[9] UNFPA (2019) KnowVAWData

[10] UNODC (2016) Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, Pg. 103, Fig. 101

[11] UNODC (2016) Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, Pg. 104, Fig. 104

[12] UNODC (2016) Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, Pg. 103, Fig. 103

[13] UNODC (2016) Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, Pg. 104

[14] UNICEF (2016) Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation

[15] UNFPA: Tackling FGM In Indonesia

[16] UNICEF (2018)  United Nations Children’s Fund, Child Marriage: Latest trends and future prospects, Pg.2-3

[17] UN Women (2013). The costs of violence, understanding the costs of violence against women and girls and its response: selected findings and lessons learned from Asia and the Pacific

[18] CARE International Sri Lanka (2014). Broadening gender: Why masculinities matter Attitudes, practices and gender-based violence in four districts in Sri Lanka

[19] UN Women (2013). The costs of violence, understanding the costs of violence against women and girls and its response: selected findings and lessons learned from Asia and the Pacific

[20] Darko E., Smith W. and Walker D. (2015). Gender violence in Papua New Guinea, the cost to business. ODI report

[21] ASEAN (2018) ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence Against Women

[22] UNFPA (2019) KnowVAWData

[23] UNFPA (2019) KnowVAWData

[24] UNFPA (2019) KnowVAWData

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16Days of Activism 2018 #HearMeToo | UN Women Indonesia

Every 1 out of 3 Indonesian women has experienced violence at least once in her lifetime, regardless of their level of education, social status or age. Victims are often driven into silence because they are blamed and their testimonies are put in doubt.