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.
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 have been physically abused; one in five girls have been sexually abused; and one in three women have been a victim of physical violence and/or abuse at some point in her lifetime.
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.
‘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. ‘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 have demonstrated success in reducing violence by taking the steps needed. They have shown us that indeed violence is preventable.’
The report 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.