A survey of 42,000 women across the European Union suggests that about one in 10 have been the victims of sexual violence, and half of them reported being raped.
Described as the largest of its kind, the survey released today by the EU's Agency for Fundamental Rights is the most ambitious effort yet to gauge the extent of sexual violence and harassment experienced by the 186.6 million women in the EU's 28 nations.
The survey suggests that more than 100 million women were subject to sexual harassment broadly defined in 11 categories ranging from indecent exposure to inappropriate requests for a date.
Only one woman in seven reported their most serious incident of intimate partner violence to police.
Released on International Women's Day, the EU survey was based on face-to-face interviews with women aged between 15 and 74 in all 28 EU countries.
It was conducted from March to September 2012 by a consortium headed the UN -affiliated European Institute for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the UN Interregional
Crime and Justice Research Institute, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5 per centage points.
Among the findings:
Rape and Other Sexual Violence
Ten per cent of respondents reported some form of sexual violence since the age of 15, with one in 20 saying she had been raped. That would be more than 9 million rape victims when applied to all women between 15 and 74 in the EU.
Twelve per cent reported some form of sexual abuse by an adult before age 15, with 1 per cent indicating they were forced to have intercourse with an adult.
Some 27 per cent reported physical abuse before age 15 at the hands of an adult. Men were perpetrators of 97 per cent of cases of sexual violence against children, but in cases of physical violence men slightly outnumbered women.
Abuse Within Relationship
Of respondents who are or have been in a relationship with a man, 22 per cent reported physical and or sexual violence from their partner.
Some form of "psychological violence" by a current or previous partner was reported by 43 per cent. Examples included humiliation, threats of physical harm and limitations on freedom of movement such as taking away respondents' car keys or locking them in.