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J Interpers Violence. 2004 Nov;19(11):1209-34.

What is violence against women: defining and measuring the problem.

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  • 1National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, USA.


Violence against women (VAW) is a prevalent problem with substantial physical and mental health consequences throughout the world, and sound public policy is dependent on having good measures of VAW. This article (a) describes and contrasts criminal justice and public health approaches toward defining VAW, (b) identifies major controversies concerning measurement of VAW, (c) summarizes basic principles in identifying and measuring VAW cases, and (d) recommends changes to improve measurement of VAW. In addition to reviewing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Workshop on Building Data Systems for Monitoring and Responding to Violence Against Women and the World Health Organization World Report on Violence and Health, the article concludes that changes are needed in the FBI Uniform Crime Reports and National Crime Victimization Survey to improve measurement of rape and sexual assault.

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