Publication Date



[Excerpt] In recent years, the international community has increasingly recognized international violence against women (VAW) as a significant human rights and global health issue. VAW, which can include both random acts of violence as well as sustained abuse over time, can be physical, psychological, or sexual in nature. Studies have found that VAW occurs in all geographic regions, countries, cultures, and economic classes, with some research showing that women in developing countries experience higher rates of violence than those in developed countries. Many experts view VAW as a symptom of the historically unequal power relationship between men and women,and argue that over time this imbalance has led to pervasive cultural stereotypes and attitudes that perpetuate a cycle of violence.

This report addresses causes, prevalence, and consequences of violence against women. It provides examples of completed and ongoing U.S. activities that address VAW directly or include anti-VAW components, and it outlines possible policy issues for the 112th Congress, including

• the scope and effectiveness of U.S. programs in addressing international VAW;

• further integrating anti-VAW programs into U.S. assistance and foreign policy mechanisms;

• U.S. funding for anti-VAW activities worldwide, particularly in light of the global financial crisis, economic recession, and subsequent calls to reduce the U.S. budget deficit; and

• strengthening U.S. government coordination of anti-VAW activities.


Suggested Citation

Blanchfield, L., Margesson, R., Salaam-Blyther, T., Serafino, N. M., & Sun Wyler, L. (2011). International violence against women: U.S. response and policy issues [Electronic version]. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.