Statistics relating to the prevalence of domestic violence are critical to any advocacy effort. Statistics can help document the need for certain programs or raise public awareness of the extent of the problem. International covenants signed by many CEE/CIS countries require signatories to collect statistics on domestic violence. For example, the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women recommends that states parties “[p]romote research, collect data and compile statistics, especially concerning domestic violence, relating to the prevalence of different forms of violence against women and encourage research on the causes, nature, seriousness and consequences of violence against women and on the effectiveness of measures implemented to prevent and redress violence against women.” Despite these requirements, statistical information on the prevalence of domestic violence throughout the world or in the CEE/CIS region is still difficult to obtain.

According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF), one in every three women in the world has experienced sexual, physical, emotional or other abuse in her lifetime. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that in forty-eight surveys from around the world, 10-69% of women stated that they had been physically assaulted by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. The WHO also reports that studies from a range of countries show that 40-70% of female murder victims were killed by an intimate partner. A 1997 UNICEF publication reports that between a quarter and one half of women around the world have suffered violence at the hands of an intimate partner. Charlotte Bunch, The Intolerable Status Quo: Violence Against Women and Girls, The Progress of Nations 45 (UNICEF 1997), available in PDF and web format. Additional global statistics are available from the Family Violence Prevention Fund.

UNICEF reports the following statistics on domestic violence for three countries of CEE/CIS:

  • Estonia: 29% of women aged 18-24 fear domestic violence, and the share rises with age, affecting 52% of women 65 or older, according to a 1994 survey of 2,315 women.
  • Poland: 60% of divorced women surveyed in 1993 by the Centre for the Examination of Public Opinion reported having been hit at least once by their ex-husbands; an additional 25% reported repeated violence.
  • Tajikistan: 23% of 550 women aged 18-40 reported physical abuse, according to a survey.

From UNICEF, Domestic Violence Against Women and Girls, 6 Innocenti Digest 1, 5 (2000). The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, describing a recent study in Tajikistan in Women 2000: An Investigation into the Status of Women’s Rights in Central and South-Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States 436 (2000), reported that 40% of women polled in the study stated that they had experienced domestic abuse.

In the United States, approximately 22.1% of all women have experienced some form of assault by an intimate partner. Each year, 4.5 million physical assaults are committed against women by intimate partners. From Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence 10 (U.S. Department of Justice 2000). In 1999, approximately 1,218 women—more than three women every day—were murdered by an intimate partner. In that same year, intimate partner homicides accounted for 32% of all murders of women. U.S. Department of Justice, Intimate Partner Violence and Age of Victim 1993-1999 1 (2001). Research on domestic violence in Europe indicates that every day, one woman in five is a victim of domestic abuse.

Additional statistics are available from the Women’s Rural Advocacy Programs, the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, and DCCADV.

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