Definition
Sexual violence is any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting. It includes rape, defined as the physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration of the vulva or anus with a penis, other body part or object.
Global lifetime prevalence
WHO Violence against women fact sheet, November 2016
Studies of sexual violence prevalence
The diamonds show the median value in the range of lifetime prevalence estimates reported by studies in the database. These do not represent national or regional prevalence estimates. Use the buttons below to select different forms of sexual violence by country/area or by WHO region. The countries/areas in each WHO region can be found here.
African Region
Region of the Americas
Eastern Mediterranean Region
European Region
South-East Asia Region
Western Pacific Region
23%
13%
47%
12%
26%
15%
See studies
Size: Median prevalence
Studies of sexual violence consequences
The triangles show the relative importance of the potential consequences of sexual violence. They are based on a measure of association (median odds ratios) between sexual violence and the consequence in question across the relevant studies. Estimates based on a larger number of studies are likely to be more reliable.
Health problems
Sexual and reproductive health problems
Mental and neurological disorders
Communicable disease
Health risk behaviours
3.8x
2.5x
2.1x
1.8x
Social and behavioural problems
Other
See studies
Height: Median odds ratio
Studies of sexual violence risk factors
The triangles show the relative importance of different risk factors for sexual violence. They are based on a measure of association (median odds ratios) between sexual violence and the risk factor in question across the relevant studies. Estimates based on a larger number of studies are likely to be more reliable. Not all risk factors are found in all social and cultural contexts.
Individual (victim)
Homelessness
Other
1.4x
Individual (perpetrator)
Engagement in transactional sex
Multiple sexual partners
Substance abuse
History of violence perpetration
Other
3.8x
3.6x
3.2x
2.8x
Relationship
Other
Community
Urban residence
Other
1.2x
Societal
Other
See studies
Height: Median odds ratio
Studies of sexual violence prevention strategies
Prevention strategies aim to stop violence from occurring in the first place. A list of these strategies appears below. Only strategies with data in the database are included. Other promising strategies may exist which will be added when outcome evaluation studies are published. Each strategy includes several different interventions across a range of effectiveness, with higher values indicating greater effectiveness. Click on each strategy name to see the intervention effectiveness studies.
Studies of sexual violence response strategies
Response strategies aim to reduce the immediate and long-term consequences for victims of violence and/or offer treatment for perpetrators of violence. A list of these strategies appears below. Only strategies with data in the database are included. Other promising strategies may exist which will be added when outcome evaluation studies are published. Each strategy includes several different interventions across a range of effectiveness, with higher values indicating greater effectiveness. Click on each strategy name to see the intervention effectiveness studies.
Examples of strategies and interventions
This section contains examples of strategies and specific interventions with some evidence for effectiveness. They have been chosen for illustrative purposes, and their inclusion in Violence Info does not mean that WHO endorses them.
Green Dot
Green Dot is a bystander-based prevention programme designed to increase positive bystander behaviour, change social norms, and reduce sexual and other forms of interpersonal violence perpetration and victimization.
See details
Main survey instruments
This section describes some of the survey instruments most widely used to measure the prevalence of sexual violence.
Sexual Experiences Survey (SES)
To assess sexual assault victimization and perpetration.
See detail
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