The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released a report this week that found that more than half of all female homicides were caused by intimate partners or relatives, depicting the home as one of the most dangerous places for women. The report also found that legal efforts to decrease these homicides and protect women have not made tangible progress since the UN’s 2012 study.

While men make up the largest proportion of homicide victims, women are more likely to be killed by their intimate partners or relatives. About 34% of all female victims of homicide were killed by an intimate partner while 24% were killed by a relative.

The rate of women killed at the hands of intimate partners or relatives is the highest in countries in Africa and the Americas. The report links gender-based violence and killing to factors that include accusations of witchcraft, sex-work, dowry disputes, and sexual orientation or gender identity as well as male jealousy, drinking, and fears of abandonment. Domestic violence and abuse as a whole is rooted in patriarchal power structures and social norms about the subordination of women and the right of men to exert control over women.

It is not possible to accurately measure all gender-related deaths in areas experiencing armed conflict, limiting the report’s data. The report also does not consider unsolved homicides and notes that gender based violence is often underreported. This means that the reported numbers may actually be much higher than stated.

In the past year, many countries have sought to highlight and combat violence against women. The president of Mexico argued that the “deeply rooted machista culture” is what “ultimately and truly generates violence against women.” In Brazil, people urged each other to intervene against domestic violence and in Peru beauty pageant contestants spoke against gendered violence and stated statistics on femicide. The European Union and the UN launched a program to fight against gender-based violence in Latin America.

However, while public awareness about gender-based violence and homicide has risen, the number of deaths has not decreased since 2012. Dr. Roure, who extensively studies violence against women at John Jay College, said that “a law alone is not enough. You need to have a comprehensive, holistic approach.”

 

Media Resources: NYT 11/27/18

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