“The consequences of violence on families and communities are profound, and can result in lifelong ill health for those affected,” states Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). “Yet we know what works to prevent violence in our homes, schools and workplaces and on our streets and playgrounds. We should take inspiration from governments which have demonstrated success in reducing violence by taking the steps needed. They have shown us that indeed violence is preventable.”
Jointly published on 10 December 2014 by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Programme, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Global status report on violence prevention 2014 reveals that 475 000 people were murdered in 2012, and homicide is the third leading cause of death globally for males aged 15-44 years, highlighting the urgent need for more decisive action to prevent violence.
The report is the first report of its kind to assess national efforts to address interpersonal violence, namely child maltreatment, youth violence, intimate partner and sexual violence, and elder abuse.
Despite indications that homicide rates decreased by 16% globally between 2000 and 2012, violence remains widespread. Non-fatal acts of violence take a particular toll on women and children. One in four children has been physically abused; one in five girls has been sexually abused; and one in three women has been a victim of physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence at some point in her lifetime.
For South Africa, the report highlights on a positive note that a wide range of laws and prevention programmes exist that are meant to address and end different forms of violence. However, the report negatively points out that many of the laws are only limitedly enforced and only few of the prevention programmes are implemented on a large scale.
The consequences of violence on physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health often last a lifetime. Violence also contributes to leading causes of death such as cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS, because victims are at an increased risk of adopting behaviours such as smoking, alcohol and drug misuse, and unsafe sex.
"High levels of family and community violence cripple both people’s ability to sustain their individual livelihoods, as well as a nation’s options for political, social, and economic development”, said Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. "This report takes stock of the measures countries are taking to prevent and respond to interpersonal violence, but the report also reveals gaps in global violence prevention which must be filled, such as the quality and reach of prevention programmes, the access to services for victims, particularly for women and girls who are disproportionately affected by violence, and the enforcement of existing laws."
The Global status report on violence prevention 2014 calls for a scaling up of violence prevention programmes in all countries; stronger legislation and enforcement of laws relevant for violence prevention; strengthened justice and security institutions to uphold the rule of law; and enhanced services for victims of violence. It also advocates for better and more effective use of data to inform violence prevention programming and to measure progress. The report is intended for use by governments to help identify gaps and encourage and guide actions, and by nongovernmental organizations and experts to assist governments in their efforts.
For more information, visit: http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/status_report/2014/en/