Indicator 38. Prevalence of girls and women 15-49 who have experienced physical or sexual violence [by an intimate partner] in the last 12 months

Rationale and definition:

Violence against women and girls is important not only because of the moral or public health issues it raises, but also since the threat of ‘domestic’ violence keeps women in the home and further constrains women’s movements and actions, limiting their life choices. The Global Burden of Disease estimates that over 30% of all girls and women aged 15 and older suffer physical or sexual partner abuse during their lifetime. Knowing the incidence and prevalence of violence is a first step to ensuring adequate prevention policies.

This indicator measures the occurrence of violence against girls and women by intimate partners. Violence is defined as physical and/or sexual violence and the threat of such violence. Since most violence against women is perpetrated by their husband or intimate partner, this measure captures most incidences of violence against women. The 12-month measure of partner violence is better suited than a lifetime measure, to reveal changes in levels and risks of violence over time.


By frequency, age, marital status, urban/rural, and type of and severity of violence.

Comments and limitations:

Measures of partner violence in high-income countries would need to be re- calculated to conform to the data available globally.

It has also been suggested that intimate partner violence be complemented by a broader measure of violence experienced by women and girls. Since the data is based on experiential surveys, it would be quite simple to include both measures.

Preliminary assessment of current data availability by Friends of the Chair:


Primary data source:

Household surveys.

Potential lead agency or agencies:

WHO and UNSD collect this data based on international and national surveys.1

  1. UN Statistics Division (2010). The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics. New York, NY: UN Statistics, 127.