Even as women’s groups continue to push for laws that criminalize violence — marital rape is still permitted in many countries — new types of attacks have emerged, some of them online, including rape threats on Twitter. About 35 percent of women worldwide — more than one in three — said they had experienced physical violence in their lifetime, the report finds. One in 10 girls under the age of 18 was forced to have sex, it says. Since the Beijing conference 20 years ago, there has been measurable, though mixed, progress on many fronts, according to the United Nations analysis.
As many girls as boys are now enrolled in primary school, a sharp advance since 1995. Maternal mortality rates have fallen by half. And women are more likely to be in the labor force, though the pay gap is closing so slowly that it will take another 75 years before women and men are paid equally for equal work.
The share of women serving in legislatures has nearly doubled, too, though women still account for only one in five legislators. All but 32 countries have adopted laws that guarantee gender equality in their constitutions.
But violence against women — including rape, murder and sexual harassment — remains stubbornly high in countries rich and poor, at war and at peace. The United Nations’ main health agency, the World Health Organization, found that 38 percent of women who are murdered are killed by their partners.
Where there are laws on the books, like ones that criminalize domestic violence, for instance, they are not reliably enforced.
The economic impact is huge. One recent study found that domestic violence against women and children alone costs the global economy $4 trillion.