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News Article

Health Consequences of Gender Violence

By Miriam Bello | Tue, 10/26/2021 - 14:32

Violence against women and girls can stop them from accessing health services and lead to long-term damage to their physical and mental wellbeing. Awareness through multisectoral programs is necessary to end this problem.

In Mexico, it is estimated that two-thirds (66 percent) of women aged 15 years and over have experienced violence at some point in their life and 44 percent of them have experienced violence by their partner. In addition, it is estimated that, on average, 10 women are murdered daily.

In the first five months of 2021, femicides increased by 7.1 percent compared to the same period the previous year, according to the Secretary of Public Security, Rosa Icela Rodríguez. From January to May, 423 women have been murdered because of their gender.

During the first four months of 2019, when lockdowns from the pandemic began, there was a 53 percent increase in calls to 9-1-1 due to incidents of violence against women versus 2020, according to the national information system.

Mexico’s National Shelter Network reports that in the first five months of 2021, at least 13,631 women fled their homes with their children due to violence. In addition, according to the National Public Security System (SNSP), from January to May of this year, 106,603 cases of family violence were reported. In all of 2020, 220,031 were registered, which is the highest figure since 2015.

Violence against women is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in the world, says the UN, and remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it. It manifests in numerous ways, encompassing intimate partner violence (battering, psychological abuse, marital rape and femicide, among others), sexual violence and harassment (rape, forced sexual acts, unwanted sexual advances, child sexual abuse, forced marriage, street harassment, stalking, cyber-harassment), human trafficking (slavery, sexual exploitation), female genital mutilation and child marriage.

Some global facts of this type of violence are:

  • One in three women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • Globally, as many as 38 percent of murders of women are committed by a male partner.
  • 200 million women and girls have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting.
  • Each year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18. That is 28 girls every minute.
  • It is estimated that up to 10 million children are victims of child sexual exploitation.

The WHO explains violence has immediate effects on women’s health, which in some cases is fatal. Furthermore, physical, mental and behavioral health consequences can also persist long after the violence has stopped.

Health impacts can go from immediate and acute, to long-lasting and chronic or even fatal like homicide or suicide. Additionally, violence against women and girls leads to injuries, with 42 percent of women who experience intimate partner violence reporting an injury as a consequence of this violence.

Another health consequences are unintended pregnancies, induced abortions, gynecological problems and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. A 2013 WHO study on the health burden associated with violence against women found that women who had been physically or sexually abused were 1.5 times more likely to have a sexually transmitted infection and, in some regions, HIV, compared to women who had not experienced partner violence. They are also twice as likely to have an abortion.

Intimate partner violence in pregnancy also increases the likelihood of miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term delivery and low birth weight babies. The same 2013 WHO study showed that women who experienced intimate partner violence were 16 percent more likely to suffer a miscarriage and 41 percent more likely to have a pre-term birth.

These forms of violence can also lead to depression, post-traumatic stress and other anxiety disorders, sleep difficulties, eating disorders and suicide attempts. The 2013 analysis found that women who have experienced intimate partner violence were almost twice as likely to experience depression and problem drinking.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Mexico’s National Shelter Network, National Public Security System, WHO, UN
Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst