The majority of women in the US live in relative equality. There are big social differences and here, as in the rest of the world, social problems cause violence. Poverty levels have increased with the financial crisis and there are reasons to believe that this will lead to more violence in close relationships.
Population: 313 million (2011)
Religion: Christianity, approx. 78 %
Life expectancy: Men 75 years, women 80 years
Literacy rate: 98%
Income inequality: Gini coefficient 0.45 (2007)*
Ranking on the Transparency International list of Corruption Perceptions in 183 countries: 24 (2011)**
Ranking on the UNDP Human Development Index of 146 countries, taking gender equality into account: 47 (2011)***
Maternal deaths: 16 deaths per l00,000 births
Number of children/woman: 2.06
Abortion legislation: Right to abortion. Some states have regulations making certain information to pregnant women mandatory, including the size and appearance of the foetus.
Law against rape within marriage: Yes
Violence against women in close relationships: one woman in six has been subjected to sexual violence.
* Gini coefficient:
An economic metric of inequality in a population, for example in income distribution. The Gini coefficient has a value of between 0 and 1, where 0 implies that the assets of all individuals are exactly the same (total equality) while 1 represents total inequality. The lower the Gini coefficient for income inequality, the greater the equality of distribution of salaries, profits, welfare benefits and other forms of compensation.
In 2011, Transparency International ranked 183 countries according to how widespread corruption was in the country. Position 1 on the list showed the country where corruption was least widespread, position 183 the greatest. Corruption within, for example, the police and justice systems has a marked influence on women’s lives.
Every year, the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, measures human development in the world’s countries taking into account health, education and income, in the Human Development Index, HDI. In 2010 a new index was introduced: GII, Gender Inequality Index, which also takes gender equality into account. The countries are ranked from position 1 downwards.
Swedish Institute of International Affairs
Center for Reproductive Rights
CIA World Factbook
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ reports on human rights
Is there legislation in place which explicitly states that acts of violence committed against women by someone close to them which take place in private are against the law, and which imposes appropriate punishment on the perpetrator?
Every state has different laws, but partner violence is illegal everywhere, so each state has, for example, rules for protection orders.
Assault crimes carry severe sentences.
Illegal immigrants live outside the legal system and many undocumented women fare badly as a result.
Is there a functioning, non-corrupt police force and judiciary which can pass sentence and enforce punishment within a reasonable period of time?
The police and the courts in the US are not considered to be corrupt.
The police have become much more efficient. Tracey Thurman in Torrington, Connecticut, was stabbed and almost killed by her husband in 1983. She sued the police for not taking her pleas for help seriously. She won her case and that led to a wave of new laws and regulations throughout the US.
Many police officers still do not take the question seriously. Surveys have shown that the police respond more quickly to a call concerning a man who has been subjected to violence by another man, than when the victim is a woman in a partner relationship.
Are there accessible and reliable statistics for the incidence of violence against women?
The United States Department of Justice regularly publishes figures for partner violence.
Is it possible for women to support themselves and their children, for example after divorce?
It is common and generally acceptable for women in the US to work.
Being a low-paid mother of young children can be a problem, as childcare is expensive and difficult to find.
There are big differences in salary between men and women.
Are there shelters for women who want to leave a violent relationship?
There are women’s shelters.
The shelters sometimes have a bad reputation and are seen as providing accommodation for women who are poor and homeless.
Has the government explicitly expressed the will to fight the violence by means of public debate and various forms of preventive work, for example in the schools, the legal system and the healthcare system?
The question does not have high priority in the political debate.
Certain specialised research, for example into violence in teenage relationships, has led to new debate.
Are there any programmes to prevent the abuser from relapsing into violence?
There are different types of programmes for offenders in different parts of the country.
Co-ordination and research around the programmes is poor. Little is known about what actually works.
Does society take the view that women are subordinate to men?
Officially, women and men are equal in the US.
Which direction is the fight to end the violence against women going in?
Awareness of the consequences of violence are spreading throughout society and women are becoming more inclined to report and to leave their violent husbands. According to official figures, fewer women are subjected to violence now, than at the beginning of the 1990s.