Around the world, 81,000 women and girls were murdered in 2020 and 47,000 (58%) were killed by an intimate partner or family member, one every 11 minutes, a report on November 26, 2021by the Office of the United Nations Against Drugs and Crime (UNODC) disclosed.
“Although eight out of 10 homicide victims are men or boys, women and girls are the main victims of lethal domestic violence in all parts of the world,” observed UNODC Executive Director GhadaWaly. Six out of 10 murders by intimate partners or other family members have a woman or girl as the victim.
UNODC research “shows that the situation has not improved over the last decade, even in places where deadly violence, in general, has decreased. Urgent and specific actions are needed to empower and protect women and girls, prevent gender-based violence and save lives,” said Waly.
The report, framed within the 16 days of the international campaign for the elimination of violence against women, which began on November 25, collected data from 95 countries on murders by gender of women and girls committed by intimate partners or relatives.
Monthly data on women and girls killed by intimate partners or relatives received from 14 countries in different regions of the world show high variability in trends between countries in the various waves of covid-related mobility restrictions in 2020. However, global data on the impact of lockdowns or confinements due to the covid-19 pandemic, on the murders of women and girls for gender reasons, remain irregular and inconclusive, according to the analysis.
Between 2019 and 2020, the annual average of these murders showed a slight increase in both Europe and America, with differences in different regions. However, these changes were similar in size to the previous annual changes recorded in the last decade.
The number of gender-related killings between 2019 and 2020 has increased in Western Europe by 11 per cent, while a slighter increase was recorded in Southern Europe with five per cent. In comparison, in Northern America the numbers have increased by eight per cent, in Central America by three per cent, while data from South America shows an increase of five per cent with a slight decline in Brazil.
According to the research brief, the numbers in Northern Europe have not changed during the examined period, while a slight decrease of minus five per cent could be noted in Eastern Europe.
With an estimated 18,600 victims, Asia is the region with the highest number of victims, followed with 18,100 in Africa, 7,300 in America, 2,600 in Europe, and 300 in Oceania. While in relative terms, looking at the number of victims per 100,000 female population, Africa is the region with the highest, 2.7 per 100,000, and Europe with the lowest rate, 0.7 per 100,000 of women and girls killed by intimate partners or someone from their family. There were 1.6 in Oceania, 1.4 in America, 0.8 in Asia, and 0.7 in Europe.
Eastern Europe has seen a remarkable 47% reduction in homicides of women outside the home over the last decade, while homicides of women by intimate partners or other family members showed a more modest reduction, 15%, during the same period.
Similar but less marked trends were also recorded in Western Europe and South America. In the latter subregion, murders of women outside the home in the last four years have dropped from around 5,500 to around 4,500, but within the home, they continue to be around 3,000.
These data “suggest that positive contextual developments and policies and interventions that are successful in reducing lethal violence in the public sphere may not be sufficient to achieve the same reductions in gender-based killings within the family”, the report pointed.
The UNODC believes that aggressive relative protection or restraining orders work when they are quick, easy, and accessible and if they are part of a larger package to protect women and girls, including confidential emergency phone lines and domestic havens of violence.
Along with services to address domestic violence, measures such as gun control, divorce, and accessible criminal justice must work, responding to the needs of victims and survivors, and sending a clear message to society about the severity of such crimes, the report concluded.