Violence and Injury Prevention

Prevention of intimate partner and sexual violence (domestic violence)

UN Photo/Martine Perret

Intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women are major public health problems and violations of human rights. They result in serious short- and long-term physical, sexual and reproductive, and mental health problems, including increased vulnerability to HIV. Between 15–71% of women experience physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives.

Publications and campaign materials

WHO intimate partner and sexual violence prevention objectives are to:

  • raise awareness of the immediate and long-term health consequences of intimate partner and sexual violence
  • disseminate science-based guidance on what works for the primary prevention of intimate partner and sexual violence
  • prioritize the prevention of intimate partner and sexual violence in global and national health and development agendas
  • reduce intimate partner and sexual violence against women by supporting countries to increase capacity and establish intimate partner and sexual violence prevention policies and programmes, and
  • expand the global evidence base to cover more low- and middle-income countries.

WHO activities for the prevention of intimate partner and sexual violence carried out by the Departments of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability, and Reproductive Health and Research, currently cover:

Data collection and research
  • The WHO Global Burden of Disease project includes estimates of deaths, morbidity, and Disabilty-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) broken down by age and sex.
  • WHO multi-country study on women's health and domestic violence against women documents the prevalence of violence against women by intimate partners in ten low- and middle-income countries.
Policy, capacity and programme development
  • A three-day teaching course in the series Short courses on violence and injury prevention focuses on the prevention of intimate partner and sexual violence. The course is a comprehensive teaching package complete with PowerPoint presentations, detailed facilitator notes and student handouts and notes.
  • Regional awareness raising and capacity development workshops involving four to eight countries per region are being conducted to roll out the primary prevention manual and assist countries in developing policies and plans of action.
Advocacy
  • WHO publishes and disseminates evidence on intimate partner and sexual violence prevention and campaign materials.
  • WHO acts as the Secretariat of the Violence Prevention Alliance which has a significant focus on intimate partner and sexual violence prevention.