WHO Study: Forty Percent of Murdered Women Killed By Their Partners

A new WHO study also says men are six times less likely to be murdered by their partner.

(Saurabh Das/AP)

"Most violence against women is by those who know her well and are supposed to love her," one expert says.

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About 40 percent of women killed worldwide are done so by a partner, according to the World Health Organization's first global review of violence against women.

The problem isn't nearly as bad for men, who are six times less likely to be murdered by a partner than women, according to the review.

Heidi Stockl, a lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who led the organization's research, said in a released statement that the results show women are "disproportionately vulnerable" to violence and murder by an intimate partner, and that they have been "for far too long."

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Advocacy groups like the National Network to End Domestic Violence have long been sounding the alarm on the outsized problem for women. Cindy Southworth, a spokeswoman for the group says WHO's numbers aren't surprising.

"Women have less power in most societies. And violence against women generally is about misusing power against another person," she says. "So most violence against women is by those who know her well and are supposed to love her."

Kiersten Stewart, director of policy at Futures Without Violence, similarly cited the power dynamic between women and men.

"The use of violence is the enforcement mechanism of power and control. And homicide is the extreme expression of that," she said.

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But others worry the WHO study will minimize the fact that men suffer from domestic violence as well. Christina Sommers, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of "The War Against Boys," cautions that the WHO study shouldn't be used to "implicate the average man" for these crimes.

"Men commit all crimes more than women. Overall, men are more aggressive and more violent," Sommers said. "However, the vast majority of men are not violent criminals. There is a small subset."

But the problem may be about to get worse, at least in terms of treatment. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, more than 10,000 calls placed to domestic violence shelters in just one day last year asking for a bed or counselor were turned away due to a lack of resources. With sequestration due to slash federal funding streams to these shelters, the number of calls could increase.

"We're looking at these staggering numbers of domestic violence, and then these resources are just drying up," Southworth said.

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