Domestic violence is the most widespread form of violence against women: studies in 35 countries suggest that one quarter to one half of all women have been physically abused by a current or former partner.
Adolescent girls and young women experience violence disproportionately. Forty to 58 percent of sexual assaults are committed against girls aged 15 and younger – usually by a family member or someone she knows. This violence carries on through life – unwanted pregnancy, miscarriages, pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pelvic pain, complications of childbirth, STDs/HIV/AIDS, infertility, severe emotional problems and a higher cancer rate.
Women and girls who have been subjected to sexual assault and physical battering require medical and supportive services, such as counseling, shelters and legal aid to ensure their safety and well being. The problem is that this criminal act goes unpunished in most countries, and even here in the United States as we have little knowledge of what occurs at home.
Since Americans are a multi-cultural society we receive the behaviors and traditions of the immigrants who move to the U.S. from other countries. In many nations sexual assault on women is considered a “given” and overlooked as a criminal act. We do not know the percentage of women and girls who are assaulted in the U.S. but can guess that the percentage is higher than we suspect, because 40 million, or 13 percent, of our total U.S. population are foreign-born.
In order to prevent this tragedy to girls and young women, we need more data on violence and more services to help these tragic victims.