By the numbers: The oppression of women and girls globally

Last updated: 31.03.20
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Military spending

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, global military spending now exceeds 1.3 trillion dollars.
Source: Aric McBay, “Civilization and other hazards”, in “Deep Green Resistance”.

Murder and male violence

A new report shows that, worldwide, about 137 women are murdered every day by men who they know. Fifty eight per cent of women killed in 2017 were killed by partners or family members.
Source: Feminist Current

The most dangerous place for women is in their own homes, a new report from the United Nations concludes. Domestic violence is the most common killer of women around the world. In 2017, 87,000 women were murdered around the world, and more than half (50,000 or 58 percent) were killed by partners or family members. Over a third (30,000) of those intentionally killed last year were murdered by a current or former intimate partner. This means that, globally, six women are killed every hour by someone they know.

The study suggested that violence against women has increased in the last five years, drawing on data from 2012 in which 48,000 (47 percent) of female homicides were perpetrated by intimate partners or family members.

Geographically, Asia had the most female homicides (20,000) perpetrated by intimate partners or family members in 2017, followed by Africa (19,000), North and South America (8,000), Europe (3,000) and Oceania (300). The U.N. does point out that because the intimate partner and family-related homicide rate is 3.1 per 10,000 female population, Africa is actually the continent where women are at the greatest risk of being murdered by a partner or family member.
Source: HuffPost

95 per cent of all violence committed against both men and women is committed by men.
Source: Caitlin Roper, Reclaim the Night Speech; ABC; Australian Bureau of Statistics

“Women commit perhaps one-tenth of all murders, and less than one tenth of one percent of all mass shootings. When one removes from the pool of killers all women who struck back against abusive strangers and partners alike, only to be punished for their self-defense, the number drops further. To deny the specifically male nature of atrocity is to fool oneself.”
Source: Jonah Mix,Mass Killers Don’t Have a Warped View of Masculinity — Liberal Men Do”

In March 2016 alone, 175 women were killed by men in the United States – more than five women per day.
55% were killed with guns.
The killers have not been identified for 38% of these women.
40% of these women were killed by their current or former partner.
17% were killed by other family members or men known to them.
Source: Count Dead Women USA

“5,000 honour killings… take place, worldwide, each year.”
Source: Jasvinder Sanghera, “Shame”

“Did you know that the suicide rate among young Asian women in Britain is three times the national average? I believe that many of them, like Robina, are driven to kill themselves; it’s just a cleaner, more convenient form of murder.”
Source: Jasvinder Sanghera, “Shame”

58 women died violently in Australia between January 1, 2018 and November 3, 2018.
Source: Counting Dead Women Australia


A United Nations statistical report compiled from government sources showed that more than 250,000 cases of rape or attempted rape were recorded by police annually. The reported data covered 65 countries.
Source: Wikipedia

It is estimated that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner (not including sexual harassment) at some point in their lives. However, some national studies show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Source: UN Women

On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States.
Ages 12-34 are the highest risk years for rape and sexual assault.
As of 1998, an estimated 17.7 million American women had been victims of attempted or completed rape.
Source: RAINN


Globally, ten million girls are sold into marriage every single year. That is 25,000 girls per day, with more than one third of all child brides in India.
Source: Graça Machel and Mary Robinson, “Girls Not Brides”, in Minky Worden (ed.) “Unfinished Revolution”, 2012

Child marriage is legal in the U.S., and an estimated 248,000 children as young as 12 were married here between 2000 and 2010.
Source: Unchained at Last

Most states let 16- and 17-year-olds marry if they have parental consent, and several states — including New York, Virginia and Maryland — allow children under 16 to marry with court permission.
Source: Colleen Long, AP News

Between 2007 and 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approved 5,556 requests made by adults to bring child and adolescent spouses or fiancees into the United States, and it approved 2,926 requests by minors seeking to bring in older spouses. Requests are approved based on whether the marriage is legal in the spouse or fiancee’s home country and then whether the marriage would be legal in the state where the petitioner lives. In nearly all the cases, the children and adolescents were girls. In 149 instances, the adult was older than 40, and in 28 cases the adult was over 50. In 2011, immigration officials approved a 14-year-old’s petition for a 48-year-old spouse in Jamaica. A petition from a 71-year-old man was approved in 2013 for his 17-year-old wife in Guatemala. The country where most requests came from was Mexico, followed by Pakistan, Jordan, the Dominican Republic and Yemen. Middle Eastern nationals had the highest percentage of overall approved petitions.
Source: Colleen Long, AP News

Worldwide there are 51 million girls between 15 and 19 years old who are married.
In West Africa, South Asia, East and Central Africa 30 per cent or more of girls aged 15-19 are already married.
The percentage of girls who are married before age 18 is:
Niger: 82 per cent
Bangladesh: 75 per cent
Nepal: 63 per cent
Cameroon: 62 per cent
India: 57 per cent
Uganda: 50 per cent
The number of girls expected to marry before 18 in the decade after 2003 is 100 million.
Source: Sheila Jeffreys, “The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade”, 2009

In Afghanistan, increased child marriage is the result of the privations suffered through the last decade [2000-2010 decade] of conflict. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission estimates that 57 per cent of marriages involve girls under the legal marriage of of 16.
Source: Sheila Jeffreys, “The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade”, 2009

There has been a rise in temporary marriages in Iraq, which is worrying women’s rights campaigners who say that 300 occur daily in the three main cities in the south of the country, Kerbala, Najaf and Basra, the main Shi’ite cities.
Source: Sheila Jeffreys, “The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade”, 2009

In Russia alone 25,000 women per year sign up to Russia’s at least 600 marriage sites. Only 5-7% of the women who sign up – around 1,500 women per year – eventually find a foreign spouse, according to a study conducted by an American university.
Source: Abigail Stepnitz, “Male-Ordered: The mail-order bride industry and trafficking in women for sexual and labour purposes,” 2009

Female genital mutilation

It is estimated that more than 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in the countries where the practice is concentrated. Furthermore, there are an estimated 3 million girls at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation every year.
Source: WHO

FGM is forced on 98% of girls born in Somalia.
Source: Hibo Wardere, “Cut”, 2016

The power of manufactured consent: only 33% of girls in Somalia are reported to be supportive of FGM abolition.
Source: Hibo Wardere, “Cut”, 2016


Prostitution is by far the deadliest situation a woman can be in. For women and girls in prostitution, the death rate is 40 times higher than the average. No group of women, regardless of career or life situation, has as high a mortality rate as prostitution.
Source: Kasja Ekis Ekman, “Being and Being Bought”, 2013

In 2003, a survey carried out among 800 prostituted people in 9 countries (Canada, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, Germany, Thailand, Turkey, the USA, and Zambia) revealed that:
71 per cent had experienced physical assault while in prostitution
63 per cent had been raped while engaged in prostitution
89 per cent said they wanted to leave prostitution and said they would if they had the possibility
68 per cent met the criteria for a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder
Source: Prostitution Research and Education

Up to 95 per cent of women in street prostitution have a problematic drug addiction.
Source: Kat Banyard, “Pimp State”, 2016

According to Wikipedia, there are between 40 and 42 million prostituted persons globally. Estimates put the percentage of women between 80% and 98%. 99% of punters are men.
Source: Wikipedia, NZPC

In 2004, the prostitution trade was estimated to be worth 6 billion euros. The figure is now thought to be more than double that.
Source: Kat Banyard, “Pimp State”, 2016

Governments profit from prostitution; multinational companies organize it; it is even listed on the Australian stock exchange… The ILO estimates profits from trafficking alone to be 28.7 billion USD per year.
Source: Kasja Ekis Ekman, “Being and Being Bought”, 2013

Worldwide, sex trafficking alone generates US$32 billion a year.
Source: Siddharth Kara, “Sex Trafficking”, 2009

“Only 4.2 percent of the world’s slaves are trafficked sex slaves, but they generate 39.1 percent of slaveholders’ profits. To benchmark the astounding profits generated by the exploiters of sex slaves, one need look no further than the fact that the global weighted average net profit margin of almost 70 percent makes it one of the most profitable enterprises in the world. By comparison, Google’s net profit margin in 2006 was 29.0 percent, and it is one of the most profitable companies in the United States.”
“Drug trafficking generates greater dollar revenues, but trafficked women are more profitable. Unlike a drug, a human female can be used by the customer again and again.”
Source: Siddharth Kara, “Sex Trafficking”, 2009

In Germany alone, the prostitution industry involves – on a daily basis – 400,000 prostituted women and 1.2 million male buyers at a calculated annual value of 6 billion euros.
Source: Kasja Ekis Ekman, “Being and Being Bought”, 2013

Of 202 punters interviewed by researchers in Boston, 41 per cent said they knew that women they had paid for sex were under the control of a pimp.
Source: Kat Banyard, “Pimp State”, 2016

“At least 700,000 women are in prostitution in Bangkok today, 30,000 of whom are estimated to be under sixteen. In Korea and the Philippines, there are hundreds of thousands more. Eunice Kim, a human rights activist who is president of the Korea chapter of Asia Women United, claims that there are a million prostitutes in South Korea out of a population of 41 million.”
Source: Janice Raymond, “Women as Wombs”, 1995

A report on Kenyan sex tourism has revealed that up to 30 per cent of teenagers in some Kenyan coastal areas are prostituted. Many enter the sex trade as young as eight or nine.
Source: UNICEF


The average age of death for women in pornography is 37.
Source: Pornography FAQ

A report from an IT research company in 2002 forecast that profits from pornographic materials transmitted to mobile phones in the USA would reach an annual US$4 billion by 2006, out of a “total porn spend of US$70 billion”.
Source: Sheila Jeffreys, “Beauty and Misogyny”, 2005

In Denmark, pornography is estimated to be the third largest industry in financial terms… the country was the cradle of the ‘sexual revolution’ which decensored pornography and ushered in the commercialization of women’s sexual subordination.
The number of hardcore pornography titles produced increased from 1,300 in 1988 to 12,000 in 2004 and 13,588 in 2005.
The big mainstream pornography distribution companies had considerable incomes.
Playboy earned  US$331,100,000 in 2006; Beate Uhse earned US$271 million.
Source: Sheila Jeffreys, “The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade”, 2009

Pornography is now so mainstream that it forms a very lucrative sector of the business of respectable mainstream companies such as General Motors, which sells more pornography films anually than the Hustler chain. General Motors previously owned DirecTV, a pornography distributor, which is now owned by Rupert Murdoch.
Source: Sheila Jeffreys, “The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade”, 2009

In 2007, pornography revenue for the US was estimated at $13.33 billion, which is higher than the total revenue of the media corporations ABC, NBC and CBS.
Top Ten Reviews estimated that the industry was worth US$97.06 billion worldwide, which is more than the combined revenue of the top 10 web technology companies such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon.
Source: Sheila Jeffreys, “The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade”, 2009

In 2007 there were 4.2 million porn websites, which constituted 12% of all websites, and 420 million web pages of pornography.
Internet sales of porn were estimated to be worth $4.9 billion.
Source: Sheila Jeffreys, “The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade”, 2009

The average porn site has 50 terabytes of pornography on it, where 1 terabyte is 500 hours. That means that the average porn site has 25,000 hours of porn, which is about three consecutive years of pornography.
There are approximately 11 and a half million hours of porn online.
20% of it is “teen porn”.
Source: Pornography FAQ using figures above from Jeffreys, 2009.

According to the 2007 study mentioned above, by country, the largest number of pornography webpages originated in
The US, with 244,661,900, followed by
Germany, with 10,030,200
The UK, with 8,506,800
Australia, with 5,655,800
Japan, with 2,700,800
The Netherlands, with 1,883,800
Russia, with 1,080,600
Poland, with 1,049,600
Spain, with 852,800
Source: Sheila Jeffreys, “The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade”, 2009

In the American hotel system, 40 per cent of rooms have pay-per-view pornography, which accounts for 50 per cent of the videos watched. This is worth $200 million per year.
Source: Sheila Jeffreys, “The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade”, 2009

In 2000, phone sex alone generated between $750 million and $1 billion in revenues in the US, with as much as 50 per cent being retained by Us long-distance telephone carriers.
Source: Sheila Jeffreys, “The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade”, 2009

88% of pornography contains physical violence against women.
Source: Gail Dines, “Pornland”, 2010

Around 50% of prostituted women have had pornography made of them.
Source: Pornography FAQ

By age 14, 90% of boys have sought and masturbated to pornography.
Source: Gail Dines, “Pornland”, 2010

Strip clubs

The strip club industry is estimated to be worth US$75 billion worldwide.
One media report in 2006 estimated the US industry to be worth more than baseball, saying: ‘$4 billion a year is spent by men on baseball, the national pastime. Compare that to $15 billion a year spent by men at strip clubs.’
Source: Sheila Jeffreys, “The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade”, 2009

In 2002, there were 200 lap dancing clubs in the UK.
A 2003 media report estimated the annual turnover of UK lap dancing clubs at 300 million pounds, and commented that ‘they are one of the fastest growing elements in the UK’s leisure services industry.
In the US in 2005, there were an estimated 3,000 clubs employing 300,000 women.
In 2006, the strip club industry was estimated to be worth 22.1 million per year to the Scottish economy alone.
Source: Sheila Jeffreys, “The Industrial Vagina: The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade”, 2009

Beauty industry

Women are estimated to spend $382 billion a year globally on the beauty industry.
Source: Newshub NZ

Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth refers to “the $33-billion-a-year diet industry, the $20-billion cosmetics industry, the $300-million cosmetic surgery industry, and the $7-billion pornography industry”
Source: Naomi Wolf, “The Beauty Myth”, 1991

The global beauty industry was estimated by The Economist in May 2003 to be worth US$160 billion.
Source: Sheila Jeffreys, “Beauty and Misogyny”, 2005

In the nineteenth century there was no mass market of beauty products.
“Between 1909 and 1929 the number of American perfume and cosmetics manufacturers nearly doubled, and the factory value of their products rose tenfold, from $14.2 million to nearly $141 million”.
Source: Peiss, quoted in Sheila Jeffreys, “Beauty and Misogyny”, 2005

Cosmetics industry sales grew from $7 billion in 1970 to $28 billion in 1994 in the USA.
Source: Sheila Jeffreys, “Beauty and Misogyny”, 2005


At a clinic in Anand in northern India, women give birth to Western children. White women’s eggs are inseminated with white men’s sperm, and the embryo is implanted in the wombs of Indian women… After giving birth to the children, the Indian women surrender them. They sign a contract and receive between 2,500 and 6,500 USD the moment they give up responsibility for the child they just gave birth to. For the women, most of whom are poor and from nearby villages, the payment can be up to the equivalent of ten years’ salary. The buyers are typically American, European, Australian, Japanese or wealthy Indians
Source: Kasja Ekis Ekman, “Being and Being Bought”, 2013

In 2006 analysts estimated the value of the Indian surrogate industry at 449 million USD, due to its high potential for future growth.
Source: Kasja Ekis Ekman, “Being and Being Bought”, 2013

The egg provider may curse the sickness and discomfort caused by the drugs that often severely intefere with her daily life and work, but, if she is paid between $US5,000 and 10,000 (or more) per egg retrieval, as is customary in the USA, the prospect of good money will make her grit her teeth and ignore the pain.
Source: Renate Klein, “Surrogacy: A Human Rights Violation”, 2017

A study of surrogate mothers in Anand, India, revealed that 50 percent were illiterate and that many could not read the contract that they were signing.
Source: European Women’s Lobby

Approximately 12,000 foreigners come to India each year to hire surrogates, many of them from the UK. The suroogacy trade is worth an estimated US$1billion or £690m a year in India. Surrogates are paid about £4,500 to rent their wombs at this particular clinic, a huge amount in a country where, in 2012, average monthly earnings stood at $215 and a fifth of people live below the national poverty line. Clinics can make up to £18,000 from commissioning parents.
Source: Guardian

Pregnancy and motherhood

Every year, 350,000 women and girls die of pregnancy, childbirth and unsafe abortions. Three quarters of these deaths are preventable.
Source: Minky Worden (ed.) “Unfinished Revolution”, 2012

50,000 – 100,000 new incidents of fistula (damaged tissue between vagina and bladder causing incontinence) are detected annually.
Source: Minky Worden (ed.) “Unfinished Revolution”, 2012

Preference for boys

In 1990, Amartya Sen estimated that there are 100 million “missing women” globally, because of sex-selective abortions, female infanticide, and inadequate healthcare and nutrition for female children.
Source: “Missing Women” entry, Wikipedia.


The Guttmacher Institute estimates 56 million induced abortions occur each year worldwide.

The global annual rate of abortion for all women of reproductive age (15–44) was estimated to be 35 per 1,000 in 2014, which is a reduction from the 1990–1994 rate of 40 per 1,000. The estimated global abortion rate in 2014 was 35 per 1,000 for married women and 26 per 1,000 for unmarried women.

Women in developing regions have a higher likelihood of having an abortion than those in developed regions — 36 vs. 27 per 1,000.

Globally, 25% of all pregnancies end in abortion. Of all abortions, an estimated 55% are safe (i.e., done using a recommended method and by an appropriately trained provider);
31% are less safe (meet either method or provider criterion);
14% are least safe (meet neither criterion).
The more restrictive the legal setting, the higher the proportion of abortions that are least safe—ranging from less than 1% in the least-restrictive countries to 31% in the most-restrictive countries.
Source: The Guttmacher Institute, with thanks to Anna McCormack

When allowed by law, abortion in the developed world is one of the safest procedures in medicine.
When performed legally and safely, induced abortions do not increase the risk of long-term mental or physical problems.
In contrast, unsafe abortions (those performed by unskilled individuals, with hazardous equipment, or in unsanitary facilities) cause 47,000 deaths and 5 million hospital admissions each year.
The World Health Organization recommends safe and legal abortions be available to all women.
Source: Wikipedia

More than 95% of abortions in Africa and Latin America are performed under unsafe circumstances, as are almost 60% of abortions in Asia, excluding China.
54% of all unsafe abortion-related deaths occur in Africa. In addition to the over 70 000 women who die from unsafe abortion each year, 5 million women suffer temporary or permanent disability due to complications of unsafe abortion.
Source: Iqbal Shah and Elisabeth Åhman, “Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional Incidence, Trends, Consequences, and Challenges.”

An estimated 93% of women of reproductive age in Africa live in countries with restrictive abortion laws.
Abortion is not permitted for any reason in 10 out of 54 African countries.
Source: The Guttmacher Institute

Latin America and the Caribbean
In Latin America and the Caribbean, abortion is not permitted for any reason in six countries (Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Suriname). Nine others allow it almost exclusively to save the woman’s life, with only some offering limited exceptions for rape (Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Panama) and grave fetal anomaly (Chile, Panama and almost half of the states of Mexico).
Source: The Guttmacher Institute

In 2006, Nicaragua adopted a penal code that completely banned abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, life- or health-threatening pregnancies, or severe fetal impairment.
Under Nicaragua’s criminal code, women and girls who terminate pregnancies face sentences of up to two years in prison, and medical professionals can be sentenced to up to six years for providing abortions.
The Nicaraguan government has published little data on enforcement of the abortion ban, and no information on the health effects, including on maternal mortality.
A 2016 report, drawing on the scant data that exists, concluded that between 2003 and 2013, some 290 people were denounced (accused in a police report or complaint) or detained pursuant to the abortion ban.
Source: Human Rights Watch (see also: Honduras, El Salvador.)

“Brazil is a world leader in illegal abortions: One [1997] study placed the number at 1.5 million per year, approximately the same number as are legally performed in the United States, whose population is about 100 million more than that of Brazil.”
Source: Jane Jaquette (ed.), The Women’s Movement in Latin America

Every day 13 women die in India due to unsafe abortion-related causes. Nearly 6.4 million pregnancies are terminated every year in India. Unsafe abortion, the third leading cause of maternal deaths in the country, contributes eight per cent of all such deaths annually.
Source: India Today

Every two hours a woman dies in India because of an abortion that goes horribly wrong.
Source: BBC

Sexual division of labour

While “the farmer” generally conjures an image of a man, women produce over half of the world’s food – in Africa, 60-80 per cent.
Of the 50-100 million people who work as nannies, housekeepers and caregivers worldwide, eighty per cent are women.
Source: Cynthia Enloe, “The Big Push”, 2017

72% of women migrant workers are Asian – mainly domestic workers and in prostitution.
Source: Yayori Matsui, “Women in the New Asia”, 2000


Indigenous women are currently the fastest growing incarcerated group: that is true in Canada, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, where women are being incarcerated for crimes associated with poverty, like welfare fraud. In New Zealand, Arohata Women’s Prison is overflowing, so that some women have been placed in a self-contained unit at a nearby men’s prison; the women’s prison in South Auckland is bursting to the point that plans are being made to sleep some prisoners in the District Court holding cells. In the States, women can be charged for self defense, miscarriage and abortion.

Female socialisation and women’s health

Niceness, emotional repression, and wellbeing
“Rage and anguish exist under the veneer of niceness, no matter how sincerely a person mistakes the facade for her true self.”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.49

“Repression – dissociating emotions from awareness and relegating them to the unconscious realm – disorganizes and confuses our physiological defences so that in some people these defences go awry, becoming the destroyers of health rather than its protectors.”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.7

“Emotional repression [is] in most cases expressed as niceness,”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.43

“Repression, the inability to say no and a lack of awareness of one’s anger make it much more likely that a person will find herself in situations where her emotions are unexpressed, her needs are ignored and her gentleness is exploited. Those situations are stress inducing, whether or not the person is conscious of being stressed. Repeated and multiplied over the years, they have the potential of harming homeostasis and the immune system.”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.127

The stress literature amply documents that helplessness, real or perceived, is a potent trigger for biological stress responses. Learned helplessness is a psychological state in which subjects do not extricate themselves from stressful situations even when they have the physical opportunity to do so.”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.3
(A relateable example of what this looks like is provided on page 17, from an interview with a woman suffering multiple sclerosis: “I remember saying the main thing I wanted from him was respect. I don’t know why, but that was the big thing for me. I wanted that so badly I was willing to put up with a lot.”)

Anxiety and depression
“The less powerful partner in any relationship will absorb a disproportionate amount of the shared anxiety – which is the reason that so many more women than men are treated for, say, anxiety and depression.”
(The issue here is not strength but power. That is, who is serving whose needs?) It is not that these women are more psychologically unbalanced than their husbands, even though the latter may seem to function at higher levels. What is unbalanced is the relationship, so that the women are absorbing the husband’s stresses and anxieties while also having to contain their own.

The partner who must suppress more of his or her own needs for the sake of the relationship is more likely to develop physical illness as well – hence the greater incidence, for example, of autoimmune disease and of non-smoking-related cancers among women.”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.196

“In another study, married women were matched with an equal number of women who were divorced or separated. In the married group, marital quality and satisfaction were assessed by means of self-reports. Immune system activity was studied in blood samples drawn from each participant. Poorer marital quality was “strongly and positively” related to poorer immune response.”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.195

“In numerous studies of cancer, the most consistently identified risk factor is the inability to express emotion, particularly the feelings associated with anger. The repression of anger is not an abstract emotional trait that mysteriously leads to disease. It is a major risk factor because it increases physiological stress on the organism.”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.99

“The partner who must suppress more of his or her own needs for the sake of the relationship is more likely to develop physical illness as well – hence the greater incidence, for example, of autoimmune disease and of non-smoking-related cancers among women.”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.196

“Research has suggested for decades that women are more prone to develop breast cancer if their childhoods were characterised by emotional disconnection from their parents or other disturbances in their upbringing; if they tend to repress emotions, particularly anger; if they lack nurturing social relationships in adulthood; and if they are the altruistic, compulsively caregiving types.”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.62
“”Extreme suppression of anger” was the most commonly identified characteristic of breast cancer in a 1974 British study.”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.64

“A recent Australian study pointed to the importance of positive social relationships of modulating stress. Five hundred and fourteen women who required breast biopsies were interviewed. Slightly fewer than half of the subjects were subsequently diagnosed with cancer, the others with benign tumors. The results “revealed a significant interaction between highly threatening life stressors and social support. Women experiencing a stressor objectively rated as highly threatening and who were without intimate emotional social support had a ninefold increase in risk of developing breast carcinoma.
… A seventeen-year follow-up study of residents of Alameda County, California, looked at possible links between people’s social connectedness or sense of isolation and the onset of cancer… “The risk factor of major interest for women appeared to be social isolation, not only being isolated, but also of feeling isolated””
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.193

Rheumatoid arthritis
“The relationship between self-suppression and immune mutiny was illustrated in a 1965 study of the healthy relatives of women suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. One of the laboratory hallmarks of rheumatoid arthritis is the finding of an antibody directed against the self by the confused immune system. It is called rheumatoid factor, or R.F. Found in over 70 per cent of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, RF may also be present in people without the condition. The purpose of this particular research was to find out whether certain personality [“”] characteristics were associated with the presence of the antibody, even in the absence of disease.
Included in the study were thirty-six female adults or adolescents, none of whom had rheumatic disease. Among the subjects, fourteen had the RF body. Compared with the women without the antibody, the RF-positive group scored significantly higher on psychological scales reflecting the inhibition of anger and concern about the social acceptability of behaviours. They also scored higher on a scale that indicated traits such as “compliance, shyness, conscientiousness, religiosity and moralism.”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.176-7

“It is artificial to impose a separation between hormones and emotions…
Hormone production is intimately affected by psychological stress. Women have always known that emotional stress affects their ovarian function and their menstrual cycles – excessive stress may even inhibit menstruation.”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.60-61

Osteoporosis and hip fractures
“Depressed people secrete high levels of cortisol, which is why stressed and depressed postmenopausal women are more likely to develop osteoporosis and hip fractures.”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.33

Multiple sclerosis
“About 60 per cent of those affected are women.”
“Researchers in Colorado looked at one hundred people with the type of MS called relapsing-remitting, in which flare-ups alternate with symptom-free periods… Patients burdened by qualitatively extreme stresses, such as major relationship difficulties or financial insecurity, were almost four times as likely to suffer exacerbations.”
“Of the eight women with multiple sclerosis I spoke with, only one was still in her first long-term relationship; the others had separated or divorced. Four of the women had been abused physically or psychologically by their partners sometime before the onset of illness. In the remaining cases their partners had been emotionally distant and unavailable.”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.16-17

Irritable bowel
“In a 1990 study of women patients conducted at the gastroenterology clinic of the North Carolina School of Medicine, 44 per cent of the women reported some type of sexual and/or physical abuse…. In a more recent investigation at the same centre, fully two-thirds of the women interviewed had experienced abuse of a physical or sexual nature, or both.”
Source: Gabor Maté, When the Body Says No, p.145

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3 thoughts on “By the numbers: The oppression of women and girls globally”

  1. Perfect. A “one-stop-shopping” page of misogyny that I can refer men to when they try to shut me down for bringing up feminist issues. Thank you for all you do, Renee!

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