Key facts on the prevalence of violence against young women and girls include:
- Globally, up to six out of every ten women experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime.
- A World Health Organization study of 24,000 women in 10 countries found that the prevalence of physical and/or sexual violence by a partner varied from 15 percent in urban Japan to over 70 percent in Ethiopia and Peru, with most areas being in the 30–60 percent range.
- Worldwide, up to 50 percent of sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16.
- An estimated 150 million girls under the age of 18 suffered some form of sexual violence in 2002 alone.
Risk factors which increase the risk of VAWG include: being young; low education; exposure to prior episodes of violence, particularly as a child; harmful use of alcohol; women and men’s acceptance of violence; multiple partners and infidelity; weak legal sanctions and lack of policies aimed at preventing or responding to VAWG, for example an emphasis on police training, priority given to investing cases of sexual assault and resources made available to support victims and provide medico-legal services.
Studies of VAWG have identified several key facts about the effects of violence, including:
- It increases health-risk behaviours, including greater risk of HIV/AIDS; poor health and physical and mental problems.
- It has economic consequences for survivors and employers in terms of absenteeism, lost wages, productivity and long-term earnings of women.
- Violence during pregnancy also harms reproductive, maternal and child health.
- Children who grow up in families where there is intimate partner violence are at risk of higher rates of infant and child mortality and morbidity (e.g. diarrhoeal disease, malnutrition). These children are also more likely to suffer a range of behavioural and emotional disturbances, as well as anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
- Witnessing parental violence is also a risk factor for the perpetration or experiencing of violence later in life.
- Many adolescent girls are forced to withdraw from school due to child marriage and school-related violence. Sexual violence increases absenteeism, dropping-out, and undermines educational achievement.