Wednesday, March 5, 2014

EU: Study of 42,000 Women Reveals 1/3 of Women Experience Physical, Sexual Assault, 1 in 20 Raped

According to, one-third third of women in Europe have suffered some form of physical or sexual assault and 5% have been raped, according to a major new study released on Wednesday (March 5) according to the EU's Agency for Fundamental Rights, based on an intensive survey of 42,000 women aged 18-74 across Europe for what it called “the world’s biggest-ever survey on violence against women.” 

The report sought to  gauge the extent of sexual violence and harassment experienced by the 186.6 million women in the EU's 28 nations, according to group director Morten Kjaerum.

Just over one in 10 of the women interviewed confirmed that they had experienced some form of sexual violence by an adult before they were 15 years old. 

One in 10 had experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 15, one in 20 had been raped and just over one in five had experienced physical and/or sexual violence from either a current or previous partner, the Vienna-based organization emphasized.

COMMENT: Kjaerum called for measures tackling violence against women "to be taken to a new level now."

The survey investigated women's experiences of physical, sexual and psychological violence including domestic abuse, as well as stalking, sexual harassment, childhood experiences and the role played by new technologies.
"Only 14% of women reported their most serious incident of intimate partner violence to the police and 13% reported their most serious incident of non-partner violence to the police," Kjaerum said. 

Kjaerum said that "violence against women, and specifically gender-based violence that disproportionately affects women, is an extensive human rights abuse that the EU cannot afford to overlook."

Over a fifth of the victims of sexual violence suffered from panic attacks, over a third became depressed and 43% spoke of difficulty in subsequent relationships as a result.

There were significant differences when the survey's findings are broken up by country.

At the most extreme level, 52% of women in Denmark were said to have suffered physical and/or sexual abuse, while the rate was 47% in Finland and 46% in Sweden.

At the other end of the scale, the report found that 19% of women in Poland had suffered in the same way, 20% in Austria and 21% in Croatia.

The report also found that 55% of women had experienced some form of sexual harassment, 18% had been stalked and 11% had experienced inappropriate advances on social web sites or had been subjected to sexually explicit e-mails or texts. Among women between 18 and 29, 20% said they had been victims of “cyber-harassment.”

At the older age-range, the percentage of women over-60 responding that they had been victims of some kind of sexual violence at any stage in their lives, was lower at  28%. 

The report also cited a World Health Organization (WHO) finding of "a relationship between perpetrators' drinking habits and women's experiences of domestic violence," noting that differing drinking patterns among countries could help explain certain aspects of abuse. 

The release of the report was timed to appear ahead of International Women’s Day on Sunday (March 9).

Although the data is both disturbing and alarming, particularly in such a significant sampling, it would have been far more helpful if the respondents had been queried as to the perceived motivation and triggers behind the harassment,  cyber-attacks,  panic episodes, physical attacks, emotional trauma, sexual assaults and incidence of rape.