Violence against women is widespread worldwide, with serious public health implications. It can lead directly to serious injury, disability or death, and indirectly to a variety of health problems, such as stress-induced physiological changes, substance use, or lack of fertility control and personal autonomy. Abused women have higher rates of unintended pregnancies, abortions, adverse pregnancy and neonatal and infant outcomes, sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) and mental disorders (such as depression, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders and eating disorders) compared to their non-abused peers.
Violence against women is prevalent in and across the WHO European Region: surveys from countries as diverse as Albania, France, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Tajikistan and the United Kingdom suggest that 10–60% of women have been assaulted by an intimate partner at some time in their lives. Other forms of gender-based violence present in the Region are bride kidnapping, honour killings and female genital mutilation.
Violence during pregnancy
Partner violence during pregnancy is widespread and has significant consequences for maternal health. A review of research on the prevalence and consequences of abuse during pregnancy published in 2004 found that prevalence ranged from 4% to 32%, with rates being considerably higher in developing countries. WHO provides assistance to countries in identifying and dealing with violence during pregnancy. The Republic of Moldova developed a protocol for reproductive health providers on how to do so.