Gender Inequality

Are women more likely to be victims of violence?
Answered by Diana Bocco
  • Diana Bocco

    Diana Bocco

  1. Violence against women is so common, it has its own category within the criminal justice system (there's no such category for "crimes against men"). A 2009 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that of 652,660 violent crimes analyzed, more than 551,500 had been committed against women. These included rape and sexual assault, but also robbery, aggravated assault and simple (or minor) assault [source: Bureau of Justice Statistics]. Women also are more likely to be seriously injured during assaults or attacks than men are.

    Women are more likely to be victimized by somebody they know, such as partners or family members. In fact, 64 percent of all American women murdered in 2007 were killed by partners or family members; only 16 percent of men were killed by family members or partners. Less than 10 percent of women are killed by strangers, but more than 29 percent of men die at the hands of strangers. In the case of rapes, 91 percent of victims are women [source: Bureau of Justice Statistics]. More than 60 percent of rapes are committed by male family members, friends or acquaintances. One of the reasons that domestic violence against women is so prevalent is that cases are rarely reported. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that fewer than 49 percent of cases of violence against women are ever reported to the police.

    The numbers are even bleaker in countries in which women have few rights or where violence against women is legalized or part of the culture. For example, in South Africa, a woman is more likely to be raped than to learn to read [source: One-in-Nine Campaign]. Honor killings claim as many as 5,000 victims (all women) every year around the world, and more than 6,000 women are killed in India every year because their families can't pay their dowries [source: United Nations]. More than 130 million women in the world have been victims of female genital mutilation, a violent cutting ritual that has been outlawed and declared a form of abuse by women's rights organizations. Yet, the mutilation still is widely practiced throughout Africa. There's no male equivalent to any of these violent acts against women.

    Children Exposure Violenceqa2
    (Banana Stock/Thinkstock)

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