1.4. Prevalence estimates on VAW

Last edited: August 18, 2020

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The work on measurement of and methodologies to research VAW under the Joint Programme contributes to improving the understanding of the magnitude, nature and extent of violence faced by women and girls. More robust evidence and data can better inform formulation of policies and programmes to address VAW. It also responds to General Recommendation No. 35 on gender-based violence, updating General Recommendation No. 19 of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which calls for VAW data collection, analysis, and reporting from all signatory Member States.

As part of the Joint Programme, the WHO is leading the modelling of the national, regional and global prevalence estimates of IPV and NPSV. This builds on the estimates published in 2013 by WHO with the LSHTM and the South Africa Medical Research Council (MRC). Population-based studies on IPV and NPSV were identified based on a rigorous systematic review of databases, exhaustive manual searches, contact with national statistics offices, the DHS team and user forum, and VAW survey data repositories. All data extracted and entered into the WHO database is double-checked to ensure accuracy. In addition, WHO regularly cross-validates the database with VAW databases held by other organizations and UN agencies to ensure completeness and consistency of data, and enable harmonization and comparability of datasets.

For each eligible study, age-specific prevalence estimates and their denominators, preferably by 5-year age groups, were extracted for the different types of IPV (namely, physical IPV, sexual IPV, psychological IPV, and physical and/or sexual IPV) and sexual violence (namely, sexual violence by any perpetrator other than a partner, and sexual violence by any perpetrator). For each observation, the following characteristics were extracted: country, author of publication/report, publication year, start and end years of data collection, the type of VAW, the surveyed population (all women, currently-partnered, ever partnered women), age-group for the estimate, the recall period for prevalence (lifetime, past year, past two years), and whether the study is nationally representative (if not, whether it was conducted in an urban, rural, or mixed urban/rural region). IPV estimates were further characterized according to whether the perpetrator of IPV included only spouse (versus all types of intimate partners) and whether the experience of violence referred to the current or most recent husband/partner (versus any husband/intimate partner). Information on whether the survey was a specialized VAW survey or a more generic survey with a question set or module on VAW embedded within, and if training of interviewers to administer questions on VAW was reported and if the survey/study measured violence using acts-based measures.

The estimates database now includes data on physical and/or sexual and emotional/psychological intimate partner violence and/or non-partner sexual violence for 154 countries across all geographical regions for surveys conducted between 2000 and 2018. Data on physical, sexual and/or psychological intimate partner violence experienced in the past 12 months are available for 143 countries.

Whilst recognizing the current limitations in the measurement of psychological IPV, the WHO database extracted comparable data on lifetime prevalence of intimate partner psychological/emotional abuse experienced by women for 123 countries and data for emotional

abuse experienced within the last 12 months for 104 countries. These will be used to look at the distribution of the data and propose methods to determine what constitutes psychological violence. It should be noted that data on NPSV is more limited. Available data is often non-standardized or insufficiently disaggregated between sexual violence by an intimate partner and sexual violence by a person other than an intimate partner. Data on lifetime experience of NPSV is available for 93 countries.

Updating the database and ensuring quality control of data extraction is a continuous and demanding process and the update has taken longer than planned. The database, however, is the most up-to-date and reliable repository of IPV and NPSV data currently available. More importantly, this database will form the basis for estimating the global, regional, and national prevalence of IPV and NPSV by age cohorts, residence (rural/urban), and the geographical variations and patterns in prevalence and time trends in the future. This will contribute to a more rigorous, comparable and standardized way of the global monitoring of VAW, including reporting for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 5.2 indicators.