In the broadest sense, violence against women is any assault on a woman’s body, physical integrity, or freedom of movement inflicted by an individual or through societal oppression. Every form of violence limits our ability to make choices about our lives.
Violence against women is pervasive in the United States and around the world. Young women, low-income women, women of color, immigrant women, elderly women, and women with disabilities are disproportionately affected.
The World Health Organization recognizes sexual violence, intimate-partner violence, and other abuse of women and children as public health problems of epidemic proportions. The United Nations has repeatedly called for the “elimination of all forms of violence against women.” The International Criminal Court in The Hague has recognized rape used in war as a war crime. And in the United States and many other countries, law enforcement agencies increasingly provide specialized training for officers dealing with abuse situations.
Yet violence against women is so woven into the fabric of acceptable behavior that many women who experience violence feel that they are at fault or have no right to complain about violent treatment. The articles in this section look at the kinds of violence that are perpetrated, the struggle for recovery, and the movement to end violence against women.