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Fast facts: statistics on violence against women and girls

Last edited: October 31, 2010

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Between 15 and 76 percent of women are targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the available country data. Most of this violence takes place within intimate relationships, with many women (ranging from 9 to 70 percent) reporting their husbands or partners as the perpetrator. Across the 28 States of the European Union, a little over one in five women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence from a partner (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2014). 


  • In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.

  • In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related death were reported in 2007; an unknown number of murders of women and young girls were falsely labeled ‘suicides’ or ‘accidents’.

  • In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners.

  • In the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, 66 percent of murders of women were committed by husbands, boyfriends or other family members.

Violence and Young Women

  • 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.

  • The first sexual experience of some 30 percent of women was forced. The percentage is even higher among those who were under 15 at the time of their sexual initiation, with up to 45 percent reporting that the experience was forced.

Harmful Practices

  • Approximately 130 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting, with more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk of the practice.

  • Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18, primarily in South Asia (31.3 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million). Violence and abuse characterize married life for many of these girls. Women who marry early are more likely to be beaten or threatened, and more likely to believe that a husband might sometimes be justified in beating his wife.


  • Women and girls are 80 percent of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked across national borders annually, with the majority (79 percent) trafficked for sexual exploitation. Within countries, many more women and girls are trafficked, often for purposes of sexual exploitation or domestic servitude.

  • One study in Europe found that 60 percent of trafficked women had experienced physical and/or sexual violence before being trafficked, pointing to gender-based violence as a push factor in the trafficking of women.

Sexual Harassment

  • Between 40 and 50 percent of women in European Union countries experience unwanted sexual advances, physical contact or other forms of sexual harassment at work.

  • Across Asia, studies in Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea show that 30 to 40 percent of women suffer workplace sexual harassment.

  • In Nairobi, 20 percent of women have been sexually harassed at work or school.

  • In the United States, 83 percent of girls aged 12 to 16 experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.

Rape in the context of Conflict

  • Conservative estimates suggest that 20,000 to 50,000 women were raped during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while approximately 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were targeted in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

  • Between 50,000 and 64,000 women in camps for internally displaced people in Sierra Leone were sexually assaulted by combatants between 1991 and 2001.

  • In eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence, mostly involving women and girls, have been documented since 1996: the actual numbers are believed to be far higher.

(The Facts: Violence Against Women & Millennium Development Goals (compiled by UNIFEM, 2010). Available in English, French and Spanish)

The main sources of data available by country (focused on domestic and sexual violence):

  • Demographic and Health Survey Domestic Violence Module. Country data available in English, search for DHS “Final Reports” and topic “Domestic Violence”. 
  • The International Violence against Women Surveys publication and country-level data, available for purchase from Springer.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women Study and Fact Sheets.

  • The Global Database on Violence against Women and Girls (go to “Advanced Search” and filter for Research and Statistical Data)

  • The Tools Section of the Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls (filter for data/surveys and country reports) for additional reports.

See also Violence against Women Prevalence Data: Surveys by Country (compiled by UN Women, 2012 update), which presents data available for 99 countries on the prevalence of physical and sexual violence against women, forced sexual initiation and abuse during pregnancy, mainly drawn from leading international surveys: Demographic and Health Surveys, Reproductive Health Surveys, Violence Against Women Surveys and the World Health Organization Multi-Country Study. Available in English, French, and Spanish. Previous compilation of 86 countries from 2011 available in English, French and Spanish.

For lead sources on other specific forms, see:

  Additional Resources:

Violence against Women: an EU-Wide Survey (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2014). The main results are available in English. Complementary resources and a video are available in English.

Global and Regional Estimates of Violence against Women: Prevalence and Health Effects of Intimate Partner Violence and Non-partner Sexual Violence (World Health Organization, 2013).  Full report available in English.  Summary reports available in French, Russian and Spanish.

Violence Against Women in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Comparative Analysis of Population-Based Data from 12 Countries (PAHO, 2012).  Full report available in English.  Summary available in English and Spanish.

Social and Economic Costs of Violence against Women: the Value of Prevention (Institute of Medicine, 2011). Workshop materials and report. 

How Widespread is Violence against Women (United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women, 2008). Available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, and Russian.

Sexual Violence and HIV Fact Sheet (Sexual Violence Research Initiative and Medical Research Council AfroAIDSinfo Project, ). Available in English.

Women in an Insecure World: Violence Against Women - Facts, Figures and Analysis (Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, 2005).  Available in Arabic, English and French for free but must be ordered.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: Data and Trends (Population Reference Bureau, 2010).  Available in English.

Get the Facts: Violence against Young Women (UN Women, 2010). Available in English; French and Spanish.

Marrying too Young: End Child Marriage (UNFPA, 2012). Available in English.