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Violence against women

This week marks the start of a new Lancet series-Violence against Women. Over the next six weeks, the series will discuss current challenges and debates on violence against women and the implications for public health. In the first article, Charlotte Watts and Cathy Zimmerman from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, discuss the magnitude of some of the most common and most severe forms of violence against women: intimate partner violence; sexual abuse by non-intimate partners; trafficking, forced prostitution, exploitation of labour, and debt bondage of women and girls; physical and sexual violence against prostitutes; sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, and the deliberate neglect of girls; and rape in war.

Charlotte Watts comments: There are many potential perpetrators, including spouses and partners, parents, other family members, neighbours, and men in positions of power or influence. Most forms of violence are not unique incidents but are ongoing, and can even continue for decades. Because of the sensitivity of the subject, violence is almost universally under-reported. Nevertheless, the prevalence of such violence suggests that globally, millions of women are experiencing violence or living with its consequences.

In a Commentary article to launch the series (p 1172), Sarah Venis and Richard Horton from THE LANCET comment: According to the World Bank, gender-based violence accounts for as much death and ill-health in women aged 15-44 years as cancer, and is a greater cause of ill-health than malaria and traffic accidents combined. G8 leaders have set ambitious targets for reducing the global burdens of disease caused by tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS by 2010, but why does violence against women, a massive cause of morbidity and mortality, remain overlooked by governments? They conclude: Violence against women is the extreme end of a sliding scale of discrimination and prejudice against women, and must be address
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Contact: Richard Lane
richard.lane@lancet.com
44-0-20-7424-4949
Lancet
4-Apr-2002


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