Women who are subjected to domestic violence run twice the risk of miscarrying during pregnancy and four times the risk of having a baby that is below average weight than women who are not; more babies are now born with birth defects as a result of mothers being battered during pregnancy than from the combination of all diseases and illnesses for which pregnant women are now immunized. Furthermore, 50% of women interviewed in a study on domestic violence reported that they had missed an average of 3 days work per month because of abuse at home. As many as 16% of all married women residing in the USA may be beaten annually. There are over 1,200 battered women's shelters across the USA.
Rape and domestic violence account for 5% of illnesses and diseases among women, aged 15 to 44, in developing countries, where illnesses and diseases from material and communicable causes still overwhelm those from other conditions. In South Africa, one adult woman out of every six is assaulted regularly by her mate. In at least 46% of these cases, the men involved also abuse the women's children. In Bolivia, 79% of young prostitutes turn to prostitution out of economic need after running away from violent homes where they were victims of rape and incest by male relatives.
Three new instruments relevant to violence against women have been approved since the World Human Rights Conference took place in June 1993: the UN General Assembly passed the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (December 1993); the UN Human Rights Commission appointed a Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (March 1994); and the Organization of American States approved the Inter-American Convention on Violence against Women.
Throughout the Latin American region where domestic violence is prevalent, the women's movement has been working to develop long-term strategies to counter. These have included drafting legislative proposals and participation in governmental commissions created to study and draft policies to confront the issue of violence against women and to address legal anachronisms. For example, the 1992 National Women's Council of Venezuela drafted a 'Violence against Women' bill that was introduced in Congress the same year (though subsequently shelved). The Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Network against Domestic and Sexual Violence organized a Panel on Violence against Women which produced a preliminary report and analysis and evaluation of regional strategies for a 'Plan of Action'. It also proposed a 'Workshop on Regional Strategies for Confronting Violence'. Women have also been involved in training and sensitizing the police and judicial functionaries in countries that already have domestic and sexual violence laws, as well as those that do not, especially to change cultural messages that condone domestic violence or view it as a private matter. Women have also been instrumental in setting up women's police stations (e.g. in Columbia) and battered women's shelters. For example, since 1985 several Caribbean countries have introduced changes regarding burden of proof in sexual crimes, reflecting a rejection of the ideology that places the blame on women victims for having been raped. Women in the Dominican Republic are campaigning to change laws which disproportionately discriminate against women – for example, the law that permits pardon of a person who kills his adulterous spouse and/or lover in the event of finding them in the conjugal home.
Violence-free families require a partnership between men and women. This includes sharing of decision-making in a spirit of frank and loving consultation.