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Violence against women

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Women are at greater risk than men of being the victims of the most severe forms of spousal violence, including being killed by a spouse, sexual assault and criminal harassment (also called stalking). Although men are more likely than women to be killed, physically attacked and robbed by strangers and acquaintances in a public place, women are at greater risk of being victims of violence in their homes from an intimate partner.

From 1975 to 2004, over three times more women than men were victims of spousal homicide—2,178 women compared with 638 men. In this period, men were twice as likely as women to be charged with first degree murder in spousal homicide cases.

According to the 1999 and 2004 General Social Surveys (GSS), fewer than one-third of self-reported female and male victims of spousal violence seek police help. Reasons for not reporting the abuse are similar for both men and women, but significantly more male (44%) than female victims (27%) say they do not want anyone to find out about the violence.

In 2004, 86% of victims of police-reported sexual offences were female. Data consistently show that women under 25 are at greatest risk of being sexually assaulted. In 2005, police reported over 23,000 sexual assault incidents—this rate was little changed from 2004. However, the 2004 GSS showed that 88% of sexual assaults go unreported.

Women are more likely than men to be victims of stalking. Data from 68 police departments show incidents of criminal harassment rose steadily from 1998 to 2004. This increase may indicate a rise in stalking, but it may also reflect a rise in reporting or changes in the application of the law.