Violence against women is the most extreme form of discrimination, according to the UN, which is why they have named November 25 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
A staggering 215,000 violent sexual crimes were recorded by the police in the European Union (EU) in 2015, a third of which were rapes.
Women were also far more likely to be targeted. Nine in 10 rapes and more than 8 in 10 sexual assaults targeted girls and women, while nearly all perpetrators were male (99%).
Rates of sexual assault in the EU
When comparing statistics in the EU it is important to bear in mind that countries record data differently and state laws vary greatly on what constitutes rape, so figures show the number of crimes that are reported—not committed.
Relative to the population of each country, police in England and Wales recorded the highest number of violent sexual offences per hundred thousand inhabitants in 2015 (130), followed by Sweden (120) and Belgium (nearly 66).
Sweden's National Council for Crime Prevention has previously explained why there is a rise in reported sex offences in the decade leading up to 2015, saying legislation on rape was made tougher in 2005 and 2013. Changes included classifying certain acts of sexual exploitation as rape, as well as cases where "the victim reacts passively”.
Rates concerning rape in the EU
England and Wales again had the highest rate of rape per hundred thousand inhabitants (62) that year, followed by Sweden (56) and Iceland (54). Countries with the lowest rates of rape that were reported and recorded by the police per hundred thousand inhabitants were Montenegro (0.80), Serbia (0.86) and Greece (1.12).
These results discount any places for which data was not readily available.
'Leave no one behind'
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women aims to mobilize people to fight for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, to reduce violence, like female genital mutilation and sexual violence, that many of the world's female population suffer.
The theme for 2017 is "Leave no one behind," with the goal of reaching out to the most underserved and marginalised, including refugees, migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, first.