Over half of women murdered in 2021 were killed by partner or family

Five women and girls are killed at home by a family member every hour, UN report says

Denise Spears holds a portrait of her late step-daughter Marsha Spears Harbour, a victim of domestic violence, in Meridian, Mississippi, southern US. AP
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Women are less safe in their own home than elsewhere, the UN has said, as more than five women and girls were killed by a family member every hour in 2021.

At least 45,000 women and girls — almost 56 per cent — of the 81,100 murdered last year worldwide were killed by their husband, partner or a relative, a report by the UN office on Drugs and Crime found.

“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,” executive director of UN Women Sima Bahous said.

The report comes ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Friday.

It is a reminder “that violence against women and girls is one of the most pervasive human rights violations worldwide,” the UN report said.

The study showed that 11 per cent of murders of males were perpetrated in the private sphere — a stark contrast to the figures for women and girls.

“No woman or girl should fear for her life because of who she is,” Ghada Waly, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said.

“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,” she said.

The figures in the report show the overall numbers of murders of women and girls have remained unchanged worldwide, underscoring the urgency to prevent and respond to this scourge with stronger actions.

The study showed that in nearly four in 10 cases where women and girls were killed intentionally last year, there was sufficient information to classify these deaths as femicides — a hate crime against females.

It also said that the true scale of femicides may be much higher, as many victims still go uncounted due to inconsistencies in definitions and criteria among countries.

The UN agency said countries must strengthen their data collection on femicides and address the root causes of these killings, including through the transformation of harmful masculinities and social norms to begin to eliminate structural gender disparities.

Updated: November 24, 2022, 5:16 PM