Women in all areas of government face sexism, harassment, violence and online humiliation, a new review says.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has for the first time reported on abuse of women in the corridors of power.

The report found violence and harassment against women lawmakers is “real and widespread”.

“The phenomenon knows no boundaries and exists to different degrees in every country, affecting a significant number of women parliamentarians,” it said.

The study used data provided by 55 female parliamentarians from 39 countries in five regions — including Africa, Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Americas and the Arab world.

Around 80 per cent of the women reported being subjected to hostile behaviour, while some 44.4 per cent said they were subjected to threats of death, rape, beatings or abduction during their terms.

“The respondents said that most of these acts were committed by their male colleagues — from opposing or their own parties,” it said.

The report made specific example of former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, who was found to receive twice as many tweets featuring insults and offensive comments as Kevin Rudd between January 2010 and January 2014.

At the time, 60 per cent of Australian women between the ages of 18 and 21, and 80 per cent of women over 31, said the treatment of prominent women in the media made them less likely to become candidates themselves.

Women MPs from sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East “described photomontages showing them nude, photos of them accompanied by disparaging comments, obscene drawings of their person or information published in the social media suggesting that they had had marital problems and failed private lives”, the report said.

“The report … is an eye-opener, it's the first of its kind,” IPU secretary-general Martin Chungong told a news briefing.

“We have gone out to interview members of parliament, to have their own personal perspectives, from their own experience.

“We are looking at how we can help resolve some of these issues, because they are actually a stumbling block to political participation of women.”

The study is available in PDF form, here.