March 12, 2021
World Health Organization States 1 in 3 Women Will Experience Violence - How Can You Help?
By: Sharon Muza, BS, LCCE, FACCE, CD/BDT(DONA), CLE | 0 Comments
This week the World Health Organization released a report on violence directed against women. The sad fact, simply stated, is that one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner, or experience an act of sexual violence by someone who is not their partner. 769 million women will experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime. This statistic has remained virtually unchanged for the past ten years.
During pregnancy or the postpartum period, incidences of domestic violence go up. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, one in six women who experience abuse will experience it for the first time during pregnancy.
Physical or sexual violence from a partner is something that crosses all demographics, spans the globe and impacts people of all races, socioeconomic status, religions, education levels and more. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made the situation worse for millions of women.
“We know that the multiple impacts of COVID-19 have triggered a “shadow pandemic” of increased reported violence of all kinds against women and girls,” said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “Every government should be taking strong, proactive steps to address this, and involving women in doing so.”
Researchers are confident that the rates of intimate partner violence or sexual violence from a non-partner are significantly underreported out of fear of retribution. Additionally, during the pandemic, access to support or services designed to support victims of domestic abuse has been limited or removed, which decreases the victim’s ability to get help or change the situation.
There are significant health implications for victims of intimate partner violence. For pregnant victims and their children, there is an increase in the following:
- likelihood of miscarriage
- pre-term delivery
- low birth weight babies.
- Complications from sexually transmitted infections
- Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders
- higher rates of infant and child mortality and morbidity
As childbirth educators and perinatal professions, now is a great time to double check that you are making available current information and resources for people who may be experiencing domestic violence. It is our responsibility to provide these resources in such a way that no one feels singled out and everyone has access.
Suggestions on how you might do this include:
- Information on your website
- Included with other resources sent out in a follow up email that goes out to all members, simply stating (for example) a national and a few local sources for help and information
- Placing a poster or signage in the restrooms with resources
- Making yourself available for private conversations, emails and texts with class members
Intimate partner physical and sexual violence impacts many women and can be extremely harmful to both parent and baby if the victim is pregnant or postpartum. Perinatal professionals can provide information to the entire class discreetly. Odds are that someone in your class is facing this situation and may be at risk.
ACOG Committee. (2012). ACOG committee opinion no. 518: intimate partner violence. Obstet Gynecol, 119, 412.
Sediri, S., Zgueb, Y., Ouanes, S. et al. Women’s mental health: acute impact of COVID-19 pandemic on domestic violence. Arch Womens Ment Health 23, 749–756 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00737-020-01082-4
Violence against women Prevalence Estimates, 2018. Global, regional and national prevalence estimates for intimate partner violence against women and global and regional prevalence estimates for non-partner sexual violence against women. WHO: Geneva, 2021
TagsDomestic Violence WHO Sharon Muza World Health Organizaton