More than five women or girls are killed every hour by someone in their own family in 2021, a new study by UNODC and UN Women reveals.
The report marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, and is a horrific reminder that violence against women and girls is one of the most pervasive human rights violations worldwide.
Of all the women and girls intentionally killed last year, some 56 percent were killed by intimate partners or other family members (45,000 out of 81,000), showing that home is not a safe place for many women and girls. Meanwhile, 11 percent of all male homicides are perpetrated in the private sphere.
UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous said: “Behind every femicide statistic is the story of an individual woman or girl who has been failed. These deaths are preventable - the tools and the knowledge to do so already exist. Women’s rights organisations are already monitoring data and advocating for policy change and accountability.
“Now we need concerted action across society that will fulfil women’s and girls’ right to feel and to be safe, at home, on the streets, and everywhere.”
UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly said: “No woman or girl should fear for her life because of who she is. To stop all forms of gender-related killings of women and girls, we need to count every victim, everywhere, and improve understanding of the risks and drivers of femicide so we can design better and more effective prevention and criminal justice responses.
“UNODC is proud to launch the 2022 femicide study with UN Women to galvanise global action and salute the efforts of women’s rights organisations around the world to end this crime.”
This year’s figures also show that over the past decade, the overall number of female homicides has remained largely unchanged, underscoring the urgency to prevent and respond to this scourge with stronger actions. Even though these numbers are alarmingly high, the true scale of femicide may be much higher.
Too many victims of femicide still go uncounted – given inconsistencies in definitions and criteria amongst countries, for roughly four in ten women and girls killed intentionally in 2021, there is not enough information to identify them as femicide, especially for those killings happening in the public sphere.
As for regional disparities, while femicide is a problem that concerns every single country in the world, the report shows that in absolute numbers, Asia recorded the largest number of gender related killings in the private sphere in 2021, whereas women and girls were more at risk of being killed by their intimate partners or other family members in Africa.
In 2021, the rate of gender related killings in the private sphere was estimated at 2.5 per 100,000 female population in Africa, compared with 1.4 in the Americas, 1.2 in Oceania, 0.8 in Asia and 0.6 in Europe.
At the same time, the findings suggest that the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 coincided with a significant increase in gender related killings in the private sphere in Northern America and to some extent in Western and Southern Europe.
However, gender-related killings, as well as other forms of violence against women and girls, are not inevitable.
They can and must be prevented, with a combination of early identification of women affected by violence, access to survivor-centered support and protection, ensuring that the police and justice systems are more responsive to the needs of survivors, and primary prevention by addressing the root causes of violence against women and girls including through transforming harmful masculinities, social norms, eliminating structural gender inequalities and gender stereotypes.
Strengthening data collection on femicides is a critical step to inform policies and programs aimed to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls.
Photo: Katherine Hanlon/Unsplash