Home can be a deadly place for many women and girls, with more than five of them killed every hour in 2021 by someone in their own family, a study by two United Nations agencies has revealed.
“Behind every femicide statistic is the story of an individual woman or girl who has failed. These deaths are preventable – the tools and knowledge to do so already exist,” said Sima Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women.
Home is not a safe place
Together with the UN agency for gender equality and women empowerment, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released the study before commemorating, on Friday, November 25, the International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Of the 81,000 women and girls intentionally killed last year, 45,000 (56%) were killed by their partners or other family members.
By contrast, 11% of male homicides are committed in the private sphere, revealing that the home is not a safe place for many women and girls.
The figures also show that the total number of homicides of women has remained virtually unchanged over the past decade, underscoring the urgency of stronger prevention and response measures.
Too many victims are yet to be counted, according to the report. For approximately four out of 10 women and girls intentionally murdered in 2021, there is insufficient information to identify their deaths as femicide.
‘Very little progress
“Available evidence shows that there has been very little progress in preventing gender-related killings of women and girls,” the UN statement said.
According to the report, data from Europe showed a 19% decline in family-related murders of women and girls over the past decade, while the Americas saw an average decline of 6% over the same period.
COVID lockdowns were likely a contributing factor to a “particularly deadly” year for women and girls in North America in 2020, according to the report.
He pointed out that the femicides registered at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic “were larger than any annual variation observed since 2015.”
The report “is a horrifying reminder that violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread human rights violations in the world,” according to UNODD and UN Women.
“No woman or girl should fear for her life because of who she is,” said Ghada Waly, Onudd’s executive director, advocating for policies and measures “to stop all forms of the gender-related killing of women and girls.”
“We must count all victims, everywhere, and improve understanding of the risks and drivers of femicide so that we can design better and more effective criminal justice and prevention responses,” Waly stressed.
Although femicide is a problem in every country on the planet, the report points to regional disparities.
Highest gender-related killings
Asia recorded the highest number of gender-related killings in the private sphere in 2021, while women and girls were most at risk of being killed by their intimate partners or other family members in Africa.
The rate of these murders in Africa was estimated at 2.5 per 100,000 of its women. The rate was 1.4 in the Americas, 1.2 in Oceania, 0.8 in Asia, and 0.6 in Europe.
The findings also suggest that the start of the covid-19 pandemic in 2020 coincided with a significant increase in gender-related killings in the private sphere in North America, and in western and southern Europe.
Gender-based killings, as well as other forms of violence against women and girls, are not inevitable, the report stresses.
Recommendations target root causes
According to the report, these crimes can and should be prevented with a combination of measures such as early identification of women affected by violence and access to survivor-focused support and protection.
Other recommendations target root causes, including transforming harmful masculinities and social norms and eliminating structural gender inequalities.
Strengthening data collection on femicide is also a critical step to inform related policies and programs.
Bahous said that women’s rights organizations are already monitoring the data and advocating for policy change and accountability.
“Now we need concerted action across society to fulfil the right of women and girls to feel and be safe, at home, on the streets and everywhere,” she added.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, on Friday the 25th, will begin as every year 16 of activism to eradicate gender violence that will conclude on December 10, Human Rights Day.
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