Stats & Resources

The Journey of a Woman

Birth Defects

Every year 7.8 million children are born with a serious birth defect of genetic or partly genetic origin. Hundreds of thousands more are born with serious birth defects due to teratogens, including fetal alcohol syndrome, maternal iodine deficiency syndrome, congenital syphilis and congenital rubella syndrome. More than 3.3 million children die from birth defects each year, with a particularly severe impact in developing countries where more than 90 percent of births and 95 percent of deaths of children with serious birth defects occur.

China Contributes 20% in the World’s Birth Defects Rate

On Monday, the People’s Daily published a report showing that 800,000 to 1.2 million babies are born with defects on an annual basis, in China.

Experts studied the statistics released by the Ministry of Health and said that 10% of the families in China have a baby with defects. The experts also stated that the defect births take place in China every 30 seconds, which is the highest percentage among the world’s population. 20% of the world’s defect births are attributed to China’s.

Jiang Fan, the Deputy Director of the National Population and Family Planning Commission of China, stated that the costs of treating the babies with birth defects have reached tens of billions of Yuan, per year.

Zheng Xiaoying, the Head of the Institute of Population Research at Peking University, commented on the results, adding that the birth defects in China vary between neural tube defects, congenital heart disease and cleft lips.

Zheng added, “China is a country with a very high rate of neural tube defect occurrences. Every year 80,000 to 100,000 babies are born with defects that lead to cleft lip and other problems. This is because the bodies of their mothers lacked folic acid during pregnancy”.

Child Abuse and Neglect

The following statistics regarding child abuse & neglect are furnished by ICAP.
  • Worldwide, approximately 40 million children below the age of 15 are subjected to child abuse each year. (World Health Organization (WHO) 2001)
  • Studies from many countries in all regions of the world suggest that up to 80 to 98 % of children suffer physical punishment in their homes, with a third or more experiencing severe punishment resulting from the use of implements.
    (World Health Organization (WHO) 2001)
  • Physical violence is often accompanied by psychological violence. Insults, name-calling, isolation, rejection, threats, emotional indifference and belittling are all forms of violence that can be detrimental to a child’s well-being- especially when it comes from a respected adult such as a parent.
    (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2005)
  • At least 106 countries do not prohibit the use of corporal punishment in schools, 147 countries do not prohibit it within alternative care settings, and as yet only 16 countries have prohibited its use in the home.
    (Global Summary of* * the Legal Status of Corporal Punishment of Children, 2006)
  • There are non-physical forms of punishment which are cruel and degrading and these include punishment that belittles, humiliates, denigrates, scapegoats, threatens, scares or ridicules the child.
    (Committee on the Rights of the Child 2006)
  • Emotional abuse may be more devastating than physical abuse. A child’s physical cuts and bruises usually heal quickly. But the emotional cuts and bruises take a long time to heal. Emotional abuse is very difficult for the victim to recognize. If it is occurring on a day-to-day basis, you may see it as a normal behavior.
    (International Center for Assault Prevention- TEEN CAP Manual)
  • Sexual abuse statistics vary between countries and reports, but are consistently alarming: Research indicates that up to 36% of girls and 29% of boys have suffered child sexual abuse; up to 46% girls and 20% boys have experienced sexual coercion.
    (The 57th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights)
  • World Health Organization estimates that 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence during 2002.
    (WHO, 2004)
  • The occurrence of sexual violence in the home is increasingly acknowledged. An overview of studies in 21 countries found that 7-36 % of women and 3-29 % of men reported sexual victimization during childhood. Most of the abuse occurred within the family circle.
    (Child Abuse & Neglect, 2005)
  • Similarly, a multi-country study by WHO, including both developed and developing countries, showed that between 1 and 21 % of women reported to have been sexually abused before the age of 15, in most cases by male family members other than the father or stepfather.
    (WHO, 2005)
  • According to a WHO estimate, between 100 and 140 million girls and women in the world have undergone some form of female genital mutilation/cutting.
    (UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2005)
  • Recent International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates indicate that, in 2004, 250 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 were involved in child labor, of whom 126 million were in hazardous work. Estimates from 2000 suggest that 5.7 million were in forced or bonded labour, 1.8 million in prostitution and pornography, and 1.2 million were victims of trafficking as sex workers, a modern form of slavery.
    (International Labour Office, 2006)
  • Each year, an estimated one million children all over the world are sold or “trafficked” internationally and across borders into illegal sex trade.
    (UNICEF Convention on the Rights of Children)
  • World Health Organization has estimated, through the use of limited country-level data, that almost 53,000 children died worldwide in 2002 as a result of homicide.
    (WHO, 2002)
  • The highest child homicide rates occur in adolescents, especially boys, aged 15-17 years and among children 0 to 4 years old.
    (Global Estimates of Health Consequences due to Violence against Children, WHO 2006)
  • Deaths are only the visible tip of the problem. Millions of children are victims of non-fatal abuse and neglect. In some studies, between one-quarter and one-half of children report severe and frequent physical abuse, including being beaten, kicked or tied up by parents.
    (Global Estimates of Health Consequences due to Violence against Children, WHO 2006)
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents around the world.
    (WHO, 2002)
  • Of the world’s 1.2 billion people living in poverty, more than 600 million are children.
    (UNICEF: The State of the World’s Children, 2000)
  • Each day, 30,500 children under five years of age die of mainly preventable disease, and thousands more are ill because of unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation.
    (UNICEF: The State of the World’s Children)
  • Each day, 8,500 children and young people around the world are infected with HIV.
    (UNICEF: The State of the World’s Children, 2000)
  • Studies reveal that some groups of children are especially vulnerable to violence. Theses include children with disabilities, those from ethnic minorities and other marginalized groups, “street children” and those in conflict with the law, and refugee and other displaced children.
    (WHO, 2002)
  • The number of street children worldwide is almost impossible to know, although the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF estimate the number to be 100 million. The social phenomenon of street children is increasing as the world’s population grows.
    (Casa Alianza, Worldwide Statistics 2000)
  • Between 133 and 275 million children worldwide are estimated to witness domestic violence annually.
    (UNICEF, 2006)
  • The exposure of children to violence in their homes on a frequent basis, usually through fights between parents or between a mother and her partner, can severely affect a child’s well-being, personal development and social interaction in childhood and adulthood.
    (Violence and Victims, 2002)
  • Intimate partner violence also increases the risk of violence against children in the family, with studies from China, Colombia, Egypt, Mexico, the Philippines and South Africa showing a strong relationship between violence against women with violence against children.
    (WHO, 2002)
  • A study from India found that domestic violence in the home doubled the risk of violence against children.
    (Journal of Pediatric Psychology I, 2000)
  • Reporting on a wide range of developing countries, the Global School-based Health Survey recently found that between 20 and 65 % of school-aged children reported having been verbally or physically bullied in the past 30 days. Bullying is also frequent in industrialized countries.
    (Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Study 2004)


Depression is a common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. These problems can become chronic or recurrent and lead to substantial impairments in an individual’s ability to take care of his or her everyday responsibilities. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide, a tragic fatality associated with the loss of about 850 000 lives every year.

Depression occurs in persons of all genders, ages, and backgrounds.

  • Depression is common, affecting about 121 million people worldwide.
  • Depression is among the leading causes of disability worldwide.
  • Depression can be reliably diagnosed and treated in primary care.
  • Fewer than 25 % of those affected have access to effective treatments.

Depression can be reliably diagnosed in primary care. Antidepressant medications and brief, structured forms of psychotherapy are effective for 60-80 % of those affected and can be delivered in primary care. However, fewer than 25 % of those affected (in some countries fewer than 10 %) receive such treatments. Barriers to effective care include the lack of resources, lack of trained providers, and the social stigma associated with mental disorders including depression.

Primary care based quality improvement programs for depression have been shown to improve the:

  • quality of care,
  • satisfaction with care,
  • health outcomes,
  • functioning,
  • economic productivity,
  • and household wealth at a reasonable cost

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence – Global Statistics:

Information and Global Statistics about the global state of domestic violence.

  • Domestic Violence – Global Statistics:

    Information and Global Statistics about the global state of domestic violence.

    Click here to view…

    • At least 60 million girls who would otherwise be expected to be alive are “missing” from various populations, mostly in Asia, as a result of sex-selective abortions, infanticide or neglect.
      (UN Study On The Status of Women, Year 2000)
    • Globally, at least one in three women and girls is beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime.
      (UN Commission on the Status of Women, 2/28/00)
    • A recent survey by the Kenyan Women Rights Awareness Program revealed that 70% of those interviewed said they knew neighbors who beat their wives. Nearly 60% said women were to blame for the beatings. Just 51% said the men should be punished.
      (The New York Times, 10/31/97)
    • 4 million women and girls are trafficked annually.
      (United Nations)
    • An estimated one million children, mostly girls, enter the sex trade each year
    • A 2005 World Health Organization study reported that nearly one third of Ethiopian women had been physically forced by a partner to have sex against their will within the 12 months prior to the study.
      (WHO Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women, 2005)
    • In a study of 475 people in prostitution from five countries (South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, USA, and Zambia):
      • 62% reported having been raped in prostitution.
      • 73% reported having experienced physical assault in prostitution.
      • 92% stated that they wanted to escape prostitution immediately.

      (Melissa Farley, Isin Baral, Merab Kiremire, Ufuk Sezgin, “Prostitution in Five Countries: Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder” (1998) Feminism & Psychology 8 (4): 405-426)

    • The most common act of violence against women is being slapped—an experience reported by 9% of women in Japan and 52% in provincial Peru. Rates of sexual abuse also varies greatly around the world—with partner rape being reported by 6% of women from Serbia and Montenegro, 46% of women from provincial Bangladesh, and 59% of women in Ethiopia.
      (WHO Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women, 2005)
    • So-called “honour killings” take the lives of thousands of young women every year, mainly in North Africa, Western Asia and parts of South Asia.
    • The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported that 2002 saw a 25% increase in “honor killings” of women, with 461 women murdered by family members in 2002, in 2 provinces (Sindh and Punjab) alone.
      (Pakistan Human Rights Commission, 2002)
    • More than 90 million African women and girls are victims of female circumcision or other forms of genital mutilation.
      (Heise: 1994)
    • In eastern and southern Africa, 17 to 22% of girls aged 15 to 19 are HIV-positive, compared to 3 to 7% of boys of similar age. This pattern—seen in many other regions of the world—is evidence that girls are being infected with HIV by a much older cohort of men.
      (UNICEF/UNAIDS 2007)
    • A 2005 study reported that 7% of partnered Canadian women experienced violence at the hands of a spouse between 1999 and 2004. Of these battered women, nearly one-quarter (23%) reported being beaten, choked, or threatened with a knife or gun.
      (Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2005)
    • In Zimbabwe, domestic violence accounts for more than 60% of murder cases that go through the high court in Harare.
    • A study in Zaria, Nigeria found that 16 percent of hospital patients treated for sexually transmitted infections were younger than 5.
  • Domestic Violence and Your Health:

    Information and Statistics about the effects of domestic violence and your health.

    Click here to view…

    • Women who have experienced domestic violence are at an increased risk of depression and suicide attempts; physical injuries; psychosomatic disorders; unwanted pregnancies; HIV and other STD’s; being killed by a partner.
      (World Health Organisation, World Report on Violence and Health, 2002)
    • A study conducted by the Rotunda Maternity Hospital found that in a sample of 400 pregnant women, 12.5% (1 in 8) had experienced abuse while they were pregnant.
      (O’Donnell S, Fitzpatrick John M, Mc Kenna PF, Abuse in Pregnancy – The Experience of Women, Nov 2000, Vol 98, No. 8)
    • 5% of women in Ireland who experienced severe abuse in an intimate relationship suffered a miscarriage as a result of the abuse.
      (National Crime Council and ESRI, Domestic Abuse of Women and Men in Ireland, 2005)
    • 30% of women who experience domestic violence are physically assaulted for the first time in pregnancy.
      [Responding to Violence against Women and Children – the role of the NHS, The report of the Taskforce on the Health Aspects of Violence Against Women and Children, March 2010]
    • A UK report citing domestic violence in pregnancy as a significant indicator of poor maternal and child health outcomes, including maternal mortality, found that 70 out of 295 women (24%) who died during pregnancy or within six weeks of giving birth had a history of domestic violence. 19 of these women were murdered.
      [CEMACH (2007) Saving Women’s Lives: Reviewing Maternal Deaths to Make Motherhood Safer 2003 – 2005 CEMACH UK]
  • Domestic Violence and Your Health:

    Information and Statistics about the effects of domestic violence and your health.

    Click here to view…

    • In Making the Links, the single biggest reason why women did not leave violent partners was having nowhere to go (88%). 77% of women cited economic dependence as the main barrier to leaving. 44% of women cited fear of further violence as the main reason for not leaving.
      (Making the Links, Women’s Aid, 1995)
    • 30% of victims who disclosed being severely abused said that the abuse continued after the relationship had ended.
      (National Crime Council and ESRI, Domestic Abuse of Women and Men in Ireland, 2005)
    • 76% of women who have separated from abusive partners suffer post-separation violence. Of these women, 76% were subjected to continual verbal and emotional abuse; 41% were subjected to serious threats, (either towards themselves or their children); 23% were subjected to physical violence; 6% were subjected to sexual violence.
      (Humphreys & Thiara, Routes to Safety, Women’s Aid Federation UK, 2002)
    • Nearly one fifth (19%) of callers to the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline in 2011 disclosed that they were abused by an ex-spouse or partner. The types of abuse disclosed after the relationship has ended included: physical and sexual assaults, stalking, including being followed, harassed by phone calls, text messages or social networks, publicly humiliating the woman, and damage to her new partner, home and property.
      [Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline & Support Services Annual Statistics 2011]

Female Genital Mutilation

Where is FGM Practised?

The majority of cases of FGM are carried out in 28 African countries. In some countries, (e.g. Egypt, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan), prevalence rates can be as high as 98 per cent. In other countries, such as Nigeria, Kenya, Togo and Senegal, the prevalence rates vary between 20 and 50 per cent. It is more accurate however, to view FGM as being practised by specific ethnic groups, rather than by a whole country, as communities practising FGM straddle national boundaries. FGM takes place in parts of the Middle East, i.e. in Yemen, Oman, Iraqi Kurdistan, amongst some Bedouin women in Israel, and was also practised by the Ethiopian Jews, and it is unclear whether they continue with the practice now that they are settled in Israel. FGM is also practised among Bohra Muslim populations in parts of India and Pakistan, and amongst Muslim populations in Malaysia and Indonesia.

As a result of immigration and refugee movements, FGM is now being practiced by ethnic minority populations in other parts of the world, such as USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. FORWARD estimates that as many as 6,500 girls are at risk of FGM within the UK every year.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision or female genital cutting, is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”.

“Mama tied a blindfold over my eyes. The next thing I felt my flesh was being cut away. I heard the blade sawing back and forth through my skin… The pain between my legs was so intense I wished I would die.”

— Waris Dirie,
UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador and spokesperson on FGM

It is estimated that approximately 100-140 million African women have undergone FGM worldwide and each year, a further 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk of the practice in Africa alone. Most of them live in African countries, a few in the Middle East and Asian countries, and increasingly in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America and Canada.

The procedure is traditionally carried out by an older woman with no medical training. Anaesthetics and antiseptic treatment are not generally used and the practice is usually carried out using basic tools such as knives, scissors, scalpels, pieces of glass and razor blades. Often iodine or a mixture of herbs is placed on the wound to tighten the vagina and stop the bleeding.

The age at which the practice is carried out varies, from shortly after birth to the labour of the first child, depending on the community or individual family. The most common age is between four and ten, although it appears to be falling. This suggests that circumcision is becoming less strongly linked to puberty rites and initiation into adulthood.


Causes of Fistula

Approximately 80% of fistula cases reported in Nigeria are due to unrelieved obstructed labour during childbirth. Obstructing labour is directly related to the custom of early marriage in Nigeria (frequently below the age of 18 and sometimes before the onset of menstruation, as early as 11 years old). Child marriage invariably leads to early sexual contact and subsequent pregnancy at a time when a young girl is not adequately physically developed to permit the passage of a baby with relative ease. This can lead to a prolonged and obstructed labour and damage leading to the misery of fistula. The same phenomenon also occurs in women whose growth has been stunted as a result of poor nutrition or malnourishment.

About 15% of fistula cases are caused by the harmful practice of female genital mutilation. The ‘gishiri’ cut, a form of female genital mutilation, is commonly practised in Nigeria amongst the Hausa people. This traditional practice, performed by untrained traditional birth attendants, is used in the treatment of a wide variety of gynaecological ills and is commonly employed during pregnancy and labour. A cut is made in the anterior wall of the vagina with an unsterilised sharp instrument, if the cut is made too deep, a hole is created between the bladder and the vagina resulting in VVF. The rationale for the ‘gishiri’ cut defies scientific explanation, but belief in its effectiveness persists.

Mental Disorders

It is estimated that approximately 450 million people worldwide have a mental health problem. (World Health Organisation, 2001)

Modern Slavery

The Numbers:
  • 600,000-800,000 trafficked internationally each year
  • 14,500-17,500 into the U.S every year
  • 80% of these are women and children
  • $9 billion business worldwide
  • In the top 3 revenue earners for organized crime
  • 1.2 million children trafficked every year
  • 27 million slaves worldwide
  • In 1850 slaves cost $40,000 (todays dollar), today they only cost $30
  • 2004: 7000 traffickers prosecuted, 3000 convicted
  • Most common type: debt bondage
  • Fastest growing: trafficking
  • Maximum Jail Time for trafficking: 20 yrs-life, depending on offense
  • Convicted traffickers must “provide full restitution to victims”

Self Identity

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Sexual Violence

  • Almost one quarter (23.6%) of perpetrators of sexual violence against women were intimate partners or ex-partners. (‘The Savi Report: Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland; A National Study of Irish Experiences, Beliefs and Attitudes Concerning Sexual Violence’, 2002)
  • 4 out of 10 women attending General Practice who had been involved in sexual relationship with a man experience violence. (‘Reported frequency of domestic violence; cross sectional survey of women attending general practice’, Bradley, Fiona et al. 2002)
  • Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s National Helpline carried out 9,085 counselling calls in 2011. 81% of callers were female. Trained volunteers at the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre attended the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit with 271 victims in 2011. (Rape Crisis Centre Statistics, 2011)
  • 2,339 sexual offences were recorded by An Garda Síochána in 2010. This figure includes 476 rapes and 1,514 sexual assaults. (Garda Recorded Crime Statistics, Central Statistics Office, 2006 – 2010)
  • Almost one third (28%) of women survivors of sexual violence disclosed that their partner or ex-partner was the perpetrator of the violence. (National Rape Crisis Statistics, Rape Crisis Network of Ireland, 2010)
  • Since the introduction of legislation to criminalise rape within marriage in 1990 there has only been one successful conviction under this law. (As reported in the Irish Times, ‘Marital Rape Sentence to Stand’, 21st November 2006)

Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation

  • Between January 2007 and September 2008, 102 women were identified by ten services as being trafficked into or through Ireland. These women were aware of a further 64 women who were trafficked into Ireland. None of the 102 women knew they were specifically being recruited for the sex industry. (Kelleher Associates (2009) Globalisation, Sex Trafficking and Prostitution: The Experiences of Migrant Women in Ireland, Dublin: Immigrant Council of Ireland.)
  • Approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across national borders. Approximately 80% of these people are women and girls and up to 50% are minors. The majority of these women and girls are trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation. (Trafficking in Persons Report, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, US Department of State, June 2007)
  • The annual global profits made from human trafficking for forced commercial sexual exploitation are estimated at US$27.8billion. (Forced Labour and Human Trafficking: Estimating the Profits Working Paper, ILO, Geneva, 2005)
  • 1 in 15 men in Ireland reported that they buy sex. 25% of men who bought sex stated that they had met a woman who they felt was being forced into prostitution. (Layte et al (2006) The Irish Study of Sexual Health & Relationships, Dublin: Crisis Pregnancy Agency & Department of Health & Children; Escort Surveys (2006) Irish Escort Client Surveys)
  • International research which conducted interviews with 207 trafficked women revealed severe levels of violence, 95 per cent of women had been subjected to physical or sexual violence with 75 per cent physically hurt and 90 per cent reporting sexual assault. (Zimmerman et al., 2006)
  • The vast majority (89%) of women involved in prostitution want to stop. (Farley, M et al (2003) ‘Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries: An Update on Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder’, in Farley, M., Prostitution,Traffickig and Traumatic Stress, Haworth Press.)


It is estimated that there are over 245 million widows across the globe with over 500 million dependent children. Over 100 million of these widows and their children live in poverty. 1.5 million widow’s children die yearly before their fifth birthday. According to the United Nations, as of 2010, the countries with the highest amount of widows are:

  • China with 43 million,
  • India with 42.4 million,
  • The United States with 13.6 million,
  • Indonesia with 9.4 million,
  • Japan with 7.4 million,
  • Russia with 7.1 million,
  • Brazil with 5.6 million,
  • Germany with 5.1 million,
  • and Bangladesh and Vietnam with about 4.7 million each.