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Preventing intimate partner and sexual violence against women: taking action and generating evidence
  1. Christopher Mikton
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christopher Mikton, WHO Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability, 20 Avenue Appia, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland; miktonc{at}who.int

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Intimate partner and sexual violence affect a large proportion of the population. The majority of those directly experiencing such violence are women, and the majority perpetrating it are men. The WHO Multi-Country Study on Women's Health and Domestic Violence against Women,1 for instance, indicated that 15-71% of women experience physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. The majority of those directly experiencing such violence are women, and the majority perpetrating it are men.

The harm these forms of violence cause can last a lifetime and span generations. They have serious adverse effects on health, education, employment and the wider economy. The health outcomes due to intimate partner and sexual violence are comparable to (and in some cases exceed) those associated with many other better-known health risk factors. For example, a study in Victoria, Australia, estimated that among women 18–44 years of age, intimate partner violence was associated with 7% of the overall burden of disease and was a larger risk factor than raised blood pressure, tobacco use and increased body weight.2 Intimate partner violence also very often has severe negative impacts on the emotional and social well-being of entire families, affecting parenting skills …

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