The head of the World Health Organization says violence against women is "a global health problem of epidemic proportions."

Sami Sarkis, Getty Images

The U.N. agency says the first major review of violence against women finds that about a third of women worldwide have been physically or sexually assaulted by a former or current partner.

In papers presented today, experts estimate that nearly 40 percent of women killed worldwide were slain by an intimate partner.

The report also examined rates of sexual violence against women by someone other than a partner. It found that about 7 percent of women worldwide had previously been a victim.

WHO says all health workers should be trained to recognize when women may be at risk, and how to respond appropriately.

According to the United Nations, more than 600 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime.

The WHO report says the rate of domestic violence against women is highest in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, where 37 percent of women experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner at some point. The rate is 23 percent in North America.


(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)