Crime Beat: 10 Terrible Facts About Violence Against Women



Happy International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women!

Sorry to spoil your Thanksgiving preparations, but November 25 is indeed the day. You’ll find hardly a word in the U.S. press about this worldwide observance that gets play elsewhere, even by U.S. government outlets like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Nevertheless, it’s the 10th anniversary of this campaign. (The absence of press reports here is not necessarily a sign that Americans don’t care about violence toward women: This is also the 10th anniversary of the rescue of Elian Gonzalez — see this timeline of the Elian saga — and nobody’s writing about that either.)

Meanwhile, here are 10 clusters of terrible facts about violence toward women, based on stats and stories compiled from the U.N., the U.S. Department of Justice, and other sources:

  • In the United States, one-third of women murdered each year are killed by intimate partners.
  • In South Africa, a woman is killed every six hours by an intimate partner.
  • In India, 22 women were killed each day in dowry-related murders in 2007.
  • As many as 140 million girls and women in the world have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting, with more than 3 million girls in Africa annually at risk of the practice.
  • The rape rate in the U.S. (victims 12 and older, including men) generally declined until about 2004 but is now rising.
  • In the U.S., women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal domestic violence, and women age 24 and under suffer from the highest rates of rape.
  • In the U.S. in 2008, women were more likely than men to be victimized by someone they knew. Seventy percent of all violent crimes against women were committed by a known offender (an intimate, family member or friend/acquaintance), compared to 49 percent of violence against men.
  • Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were raped in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
  • In the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo — scene of the bloodiest conflict since World War II — at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence, mostly involving women and girls, have been documented since 1996, though the actual numbers are considered to be much higher. In Liberia, “the new war is rape,” and in Iraq, women are beaten by relatives after they’re captured on cellphone images talking to men. In the Congo, thousands of women are raped directly as a result of battles over the mineral-rich country’s reserves of coltan, a crucial ingredient in the manufacture of cellphones. See my May 2008 story about cell-phone-related violence in the Congo and Iraq.
  • Domestic violence costs about $6 billion a year in the U.S. in direct medical, dental, and social expenses, prevention costs, and indirect productivity losses. In Israel, the government pays a “violence allowance” of about $790 to children orphaned by domestic-violence murders of their parents.