More deaths of women at homes alarm UN agencies

Sunday December 04 2022

A report by UN agencies has revealed that private homes are not safe for women and girls as more deaths are linked to relatives and spouses. Photo: Cyril Ndegeya

By A correspondent

A new study by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and UN Women
shows that, on average, more than five women or girls were killed every hour in their own family in 2021.

The report launched this week comes ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25 and brings out violence against women and girls.

Of all the women and girls intentionally killed last year, some 56 percent were killed by partners or other family members. This shows that homes are not a safe places for many women and girls.

The report noted that 11 percent of all male homicides are perpetrated in the private sphere.

UN Women executive director Sima Bahous said behind every femicide, the statistic is the story of an individual woman or girl who has failed.

“These deaths are preventable — the tools and the knowledge to do so already exist. Women’s rights organizations are already monitoring data and advocating for policy change and accountability. Now we need the concerted action across society that will fulfill women’s and girls’ right to feel and to be safe, at home, on the streets, and every-


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 among countries, for roughly four in 10 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.

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 our understanding of the risks and drivers of femicide so we can design better and more effective prevention and criminal justice responses...” She said.

Asia recorded the largest number of gender-related killings in the private spaces 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 spaces was estimated at 2.5 per 100,000 female population in Africa, compared with 1.4 in the Americas, 1.2 i 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 spaces 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 informing policies and programs aimed to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls.