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Violence among young people, including dating violence, is also a major problem.

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The social and economic costs of intimate partner and sexual violence are enormous and have ripple effects throughout society.

Women may suffer isolation, inability to work, loss of wages, lack of participation in regular activities and limited ability to care for themselves and their children.

Currently, there are few interventions whose effectiveness has been proven through well designed studies.

The United Nations defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."Intimate partner violence refers to behaviour by an intimate partner or ex-partner that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours.

Sexual violence is "any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting.

It includes rape, defined as the physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration of the vulva or anus with a penis, other body part or object." Population-level surveys based on reports from victims provide the most accurate estimates of the prevalence of intimate partner violence and sexual violence in non-conflict settings.

The first report of the "WHO Multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence against women" (2005) in 10 mainly low- and middle-income countries found that, among women aged 15-49: A more recent analysis of WHO with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Medical Research Council, based on existing data from over 80 countries, found that globally 35% of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.

Most of this violence is intimate partner violence.

Worldwide, almost one-third (30%) of all women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner, in some regions this is much higher.

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