I-VAWA Findings: Fiction or Fact?

The proposed International Violence Against Women Act of 2013 includes 16 findings. None of the findings provide a citation to the specific source.

SAVE’s analysis of the findings, shown below, reveals only three of the 16 can be verified to be truthful: Findings 3, 8, and 11.

Serious errors are found in the remaining findings:

  • False: 5 findings
  • Biased and misleading: 6 findings
  • Vague: 1 finding
  • Unverifiable: 1 finding

Especially problematic is Finding #16:

  1. The WHO World Report on Violence and Health lists the leading causes of violence-related deaths for women as Suicide, Homicide, and War (Table A.6). Domestic violence does not appear on the list.
  2. The WHO Report also claims, without citation, that “One of the most common forms of violence against women” is domestic violence (page 89).

I-VAWA’s Finding #16 takes the questionable WHO claim and then alters the wording to make the categorical statement that “Domestic violence is the most prevalent form of violence against women” (emphasis added). This claim is so inconsistent with verifiable scientific knowledge that we consider it to be “egregiously false.”




An estimated 1 out of every 3 women throughout the world will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Biased and misleading. Across the globe, men and women are equally likely to engage in intimate partner aggression.[1]   Most studies show lifetime incidence rates of partner aggression in the range   of 10-25%, not one in three.[2]


Up to 70 percent of women in some countries report having been victims of domestic violence at some stage in their lives. Biased and   misleading.The “up to 70%” figure comes from two unverifiable sources:a. An unpublished survey of a self-selected population in Papua New Guinea in 1982.[3]b. An unidentified and unpublished “Personal   communication” from the Fundacion Internacional para el Desafio Economic   Global regarding a study done in Nicaragua in 1997.


In 2010, the first nationally representative survey of   violence against children in Tanzania found that nearly 3 in 10 females and 1 in 7 males experienced sexual violence prior to the age of 18. True.The survey found the most common form of sexual “violence” was sexual touching. [4]


The International Men and Gender Equality Survey dataset   shows that adult male respondents in 6 countries who had experienced violence as children were significantly more likely to report perpetrating intimate partner violence themselves than their peers who did not experience violence as children. Biased and misleading.Research shows that experiencing violence as a child is associated with higher rates of adult abuse perpetration for both men and   women.[5] ,[6]


Violence against women and girls impedes progress in meeting many United States global development goals, including efforts to   stem maternal mortality and the spread of HIV/AIDS. Biased and misleading.According to the World Health Organization (WHO), men are twice as likely as women to die of violence-related causes.[7] So violence against men and boys is a greater impediment to progress in meeting   developmental goals.Also, the United States does not have any “global development goals.” The I-VAWA claim probably refers to the United Nations Global Development Goals.[8]


Approximately 1 in 4 women are abused during pregnancy which has been linked to miscarriage, pre-term labor, low birth weight, fetal distress, and death. False.According to a 10-country WHO study, 4-12%, not 25% of women in most sites reported they had been physically abused during   pregnancy.[9] The WHO report also suggests there may be a protective effect of pregnancy.Ironically, the I-VAWA pregnancy-related Finding makes no mention of the problem of sex-selective abortion, which has taken the lives   of over 100 million female infants.[10]


Women who have experienced violence are also at higher risk for contracting HIV, and women living with HIV may be up to 3 times more likely to experience violence than other women. Fear of violence also   prevents women from accessing HIV/AIDS information and receiving treatment and counseling. False.The statement is misleading because HIV-positive men are  also at greater risk of becoming victims of domestic violence. The statement is false because HIV-positive women (and men) are two, not three times more likely to become victims of partner aggression.[11]


The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) supports significant work in the field to mainstream gender-based violence into existing HIV programs. True.But why is this vague statement considered a Congressional “Finding”?


Addressing gender norms and inequities is essential to reducing HIV risk and increasing access to HIV prevention, care and treatment services for women and men. False.According to feminist ideology, the cause of domestic   violence is men’s need for patriarchal control. But according to a 32-country survey of dating violence, the need for “control” in the relationship was the same for   men and women.[12]


Increasing women’s access to economic opportunities and   food security is crucial to preventing and responding to domestic and sexual violence. Inclusive finance and micro-enterprise reduce levels of intimate partner violence and provide economic independence for survivors. False.A comprehensive research summary recently concluded, “a nation’s gender inequality level…was not predictive of either male or female perpetrated physical partner abuse.” [13] There is no scientific basis to support the claim that “inclusive finance and micro-enterprise” can reduce partner violence.


Prevalence of sexual violence is higher among persons with disabilities, particularly for adolescents and intimate partners with   disabilities, and for men and women with intellectual impairments living in institutions. True.


Displaced, refugee, and stateless women and girls in humanitarian emergencies, conflict settings, and natural disasters face extreme violence and threats, including—(A) being forced to exchange sex for food and humanitarian supplies; and(B) being at increased risk of rape, sexual exploitation, and abuse. Biased and misleading.During humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters, persons of both sexes face far greater risks of exploitation, abuse, and death. [14]


Rape and sexual assault against women and girls are used to torture, intimidate, and terrorize women and their communities. Biased and misleading.During times of civil upheaval, civilian men are at greater risk of kidnapping, torture, and death.


(12) Early and forced marriage of the girl child—(A) is a violation of human rights as it denies girls the   right to decide when and with whom to marry;(B) is a harmful practice that deprives girls of their dignity, bringing childhood and adolescence to a premature and unnatural end;(C) can end girls’ education and can result in bonded labor or enslavement, commercial sexual exploitation, and violence against   the victims;

(D) significantly increases the risk of maternal death and morbidity, infant mortality and morbidity, obstetric fistula, and sexually   transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS; and

(E) is perpetuated by poverty, a lack of educational or employment opportunities for girls, parental concerns to ensure sexual relations within marriage, the dowry system, and the perceived lack of value of girls.

Vague.While under-age marriage is viewed as undesirable, it is   unclear what programs or policies promoted by I-VAWA are intended to reduce child marriage.


World Bank data shows that gender inequality directly corresponds to increased levels of political and economic instability within states. Unverifiable.Such a sweeping statement is questionable and contradicts the findings reported by Esquivel-Santoveña et al.13


Domestic violence is the most prevalent form of violence against women and prevents women from playing more active roles in the   social, economic, and political development of their communities. In humanitarian crises, this global scourge becomes acute, preventing women from helping to rebuild their countries. Egregiously false.According to the World Health Organization, the leading causes of violence-related deaths for women are suicide, homicide, and war-related injuries. Domestic violence does not appear on the list.[15]



[1] Stop Abusive and Violent Environments. Partner Abuse Worldwide. http://www.saveservices.org/dvlp/policy-briefings/partner-abuse-worldwide/

[2] World Health Organization. World Report on Violence and Health. Geneva, Switzerland, 2002. http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2002/9241545615_eng.pdf Table 4.1.

[3] Toft S, Bonnell S. Marriage and domestic violence in rural Papua New Guinea (PNG). Boroko, PNG, Law Reform Commission of PNG, 1985. (Occasional Papers No. 18).

[4] UNICEF. Violence Against Children in Tanzania: Findings from a National Survey 2009. Dar es Salaam, 2011. http://www.unicef.org/media/files/VIOLENCE_AGAINST_CHILDREN_IN_TANZANIA_REPORT.pdf

[5] Appel A, Holden G. The co-occurrence of spouse and physical child abuse: A review and appraisal. Journal of Family Psychology, Vol. 12, No. 4, 1998.

[6] Centre for Excellence for Child Welfare, Ontario Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect, 2003. University of Toronto, 2005, p. 81. http://www.cecw-cepb.ca/files/file/en/OIS2003.pdf

[7] World Health Organization. World Report on Violence and Health. Geneva, Switzerland, 2002. http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2002/9241545615_eng.pdf

[9] Garcia-Moreno C et al. Multi-Country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence Against Women. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization. 2005. p. 65. www.who.int/gender/violence/who_multicountry_study/en/index.html

[10] Goodkind D. Should Prenatal Sex Selection be Restricted?: Ethical Questions and Their Implications for Research and Policy. Population Studies 53 (1): 49–61, 1999.

[11] Zierler S, Cunningham WE, Andersen R et al. Violence victimization after HIV infection in a US probability sample of adult patients in primary care. American Journal of Public Health Vol. 90, No. 2, February 2000.

[12] Straus MA. Dominance and Symmetry in Partner Violence by Male and Female University Students in 32 Nations. Children and Youth Services Review. Vol. 30, 2008. Table 2. http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/ID41-PR41-Dominance-symmetry%20-%20corrected-pg255.pdf

[13] Esquivel-Santoveña EE, Lambert T, Hamel J. Partner Abuse Worldwide. Partner Abuse Vol. 4, No. 1, 2013. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/springer/pa/2013/00000004/00000001/art00004

[14] Jones A. Gendercide and genocide. Journal of Genocide Research Vol. 2, No. 2, June 2000. Pp. 185-211.

[15] World Health Organization. World Report on Violence and Health. Geneva, Switzerland, 2002. http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2002/9241545615_eng.pdf  Table A.6.