In what has been described as the first of its kind survey on violence against women across the 28 Member States of the European Union, every second woman has faced one or more forms of sexual harassment.

The report by Vienna-based EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has been released ahead of International Women's Day, which falls on March 8.

The agency interviewed 42,000 women across the EU on their experiences of physical, sexual and psychological violence, including incidents of intimate partner violence, or domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment and online sexual abuse.

The report suggests that one in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. That corresponds to 62 million women.

About 18% of women, that is one in five, have experienced stalking since the age of 15, corresponding to 9 million women in the EU.

"These survey figures simply cannot and should not be ignored. FRA's survey shows that physical, sexual and psychological violence against women is an extensive human rights abuse in all EU Member States," FRA director Morten Kjaerum said in a statement.

"The enormity of the problem is proof that violence against women does not just impact a few women only – it impacts on society every day. Therefore, policy makers, civil society and frontline workers need to review measures to tackle all forms of violence against women no matter where it takes place. Measures tackling violence against women need to be taken to a new level now."

Key Findings

According to some of the shocking findings of the survey, technology has only added to the woes what is being termed cyber harassment.

[Nearly] 11% of women have experienced inappropriate advances on social websites or have been subjected to sexually explicit emails or text (SMS) messages. 20% of young women (18-29) have been victims of such cyberharassment," the report said.

About 32% of women were sexually harassed at work by a boss, colleague or customer.

The other key finding suggests that 5% of women, almost one in ten who have experienced sexual violence by a non-partner, have been raped.

Child Abuse

Women in the EU have also been through abuse as a child as women in many other countries.

According to the report, one in three have childhood experiences of physical or sexual violence at the hands of an adult.

"These forms of abuse typically involve an adult exposing their genitals or touching the child's genitals or breasts," the report said.