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Identify data collection requirements

Last edited: February 21, 2019

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There are several possible ways to gather data for violence against women.  Some methods allow you to understand the  scale and scope of violence against women and others the help-seeking behaviour of victims/survivors and their use of service systems:

The two main data sources for violence against women information are prevalence data and administrative data.

Prevalence refers to the proportion of the population (being measured) that is affected by the problem, in this case violence against women, during a specified period. Therefore, prevalence rates count people, not events. For example, according to a review by the World Health Organization, worldwide almost one third (30%) of all women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical violence or sexual violence or both by their intimate partner in their lifetime.

Prevalence data are required to measure the magnitude of the problem; understand the various types of violence and their consequences; identify groups at high risk and their particular conditions; explore the barriers to seeking help; and ensure that the appropriate responses are being provided.  These data are the starting point for informing laws, policies, and developing effective responses and programmes, as needed. They also allow countries to monitor change over time and assess the effectiveness of their interventions.  This data can be collected through dedicated surveys or incorporated into a population-based survey on another topic.  

Administrative VAW data is that which is collected through public and private services that come into contact with women who have experienced violence. This includes records from health centers; police stations and courts; public services, such as housing and social welfare services and shelters; and other support services for survivors of violence. Administrative data are not comprehensive enough to measure the magnitude and patterns of VAW, as many abused women do not report violence and those who do, tend to be only the most serious cases. Nonetheless they are good sources for determining the number of cases by service, the response provided and/or the referral mechanism put in place. It may also aid countries in estimating their needs and costs.  In this way, administrative data can be useful to influence government action to address it more effectively. 

The main function of administrative data collection, monitoring and use of this data with respect to a coordinated response is to manage the cases (review their needs and determine next steps), review the services provided and improve if needed; and document the cases which might be needed for legal and other purposes.  For further examples of the utility of administrative data you can see Guidelines for Producing Statistics on Violence Against Women, Annex II.

Regardless of the data being collected however, any data gathering should ensure that confidentiality is maintained for victims/survivors. It is important that all data collection processes are designed and conducted ethically and with regard for women’s safety at all stages.

For more information on data gathering/collection strategies Seeconducting research, data collection and analysis’ in the Programming Essentials section of this site.

Tools and resources

The UN Statistical Commission started working on VAW indicators and methodological standards for implementation in national statistical systems. A set of nine core VAW indicators was determined and presented to the Statistical Commission by the Friends of the Chair group and approved in 2011. Following agreement on these indicators, the UN Guidelines for Producing Statistics on Violence against Women were developed for use by National Statistics Offices and published in 2014.

In Europe, the Fundamental Rights Agency has developed  a Europe-wide violence against women survey tool consisting of standardised interviews on women’s ‘everyday’ experiences of violence by intimate partners and non-partners.  The survey was undertaken in all EU member states from March to September 2012, with results presented in 2014.  The survey shows that policymakers need to recognise the extent of violence against women, and ensure that responses meet the needs and rights of all victims/survivors of violence against women in practice and not just on paper.

Mapping Violence against Women: A Tool to Map the Prevalence of Violence Against Women and the Interventions Addressing it (Rights 4 Change & de Boer, M. 2011).  This tool has been designed to enable NGOs, government bodies, researchers and others to map various forms of violence against women and interventions addressing it; specifically, one section is dedicated to mapping the nature and prevalence of violence against women.  The tool includes key questions to guide the mapping, ideas about sources of information and ways of presenting and reporting on the results.  Available in English

The Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Toolkit offers a list of data that is useful to obtain from different sectors in order to assess the extent and profile of sexual assault in a particular location or jurisdiction.

Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault CCR Toolkit (Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 2009).  This toolkit contains sample questions for victim service providers, which may be used or adapted to gather basic information about the level and type of provision and the profile of service users.  Available in English.

Mobilizing Communities to Prevent Domestic Violence: A Resource Guide for Organisations in East and Southern Africa (Michau, L. and Naker, D. 2003), Kampala: Raising Voices.  Phase one of this resource guide focuses on conducting a community assessment, which involves investigating the common beliefs and attitudes about domestic violence held by various community groups focus group discussions, interviews and questionnaires.  Available in English.