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June 29, 2013

An alarming group of statistics about relationship abuse has just been released by the World Health Organization (WHO). One third of the women in the world have been physically or sexually abused by a partner within their lifetime. In Africa and the Middle East, the rate is 37 percent. In Latin America, the rate drops to 30 percent. In Europe and Asia it is 25 percent; 23 percent in North America.

WHO representatives tell us that abuse of women by a partner is an epidemic global health problem. Being assaulted by a domestic partner is the most common violence against women. Forty percent of women murdered were killed by an intimate partner.

WHO defines physical violence as being pushed, slapped, punched, choked or attacked with a weapon. Sexual violence means being forced to have sex against her will, having sex in fear of the consequences for refusing, or being forced to perform humiliating sexual acts. It’s a sad fact that 600 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime.

WHO recommends that screening for evidence of partner violence be a part of every woman’s health examination. However, it is unclear to me what WHO proposes be done when evidence of abuse is found.

The reasons behind this abuse are many. We know that men in many cultures consider women as chattel. Culturally, a society may ostracize a woman if she reports being abused. Especially in a country where such abuse is not considered a crime. Women are considered so inferior that they are not permitted to go to school, drive, or work. They are not permitted to appear undraped in public.

All of us in our world society must accept the responsibility for this epidemic. We ignore the way women are treated in cultures other than our own. I applaud Hilary Rodham Clinton for improving the status of women worldwide during her assignment as the US Secretary of State.

Please keep your eyes on this issue. Social networking is the perfect place for promoting equality for women and insisting on punishment of those who abuse them. We have heard about the public violation of women in Egypt and India. If spousal abuse were not tolerated, this would not be permitted in those countries. It was only after a world-wide outcry that the perpetrators were punished. Because their cause for equality is right and just, women will continue to speak out, in spite of this risk.

We’d like to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please reply to or comment on this post or e mail me at,


C. L. Woodhams, author
The Outreach Committee, Sweet Justice.


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