Home is the Most Dangerous Place for Women Around the World

For a majority of women around the world, home isn’t where the heart is. Instead, it’s where danger lives.

In 2017, activists marched in Montevideo to end violence against women with UN Women and decried femicide. A new report by the UN shows that female homicides are increasing—and that for a majority of victims, those closest to them put them at the most risk. (UN Women / Creative Commons)

According to new findings from the UN, 58 percent of 87,000 recorded female homicides from 2017 were committed by intimate partners or family members—and that rates of such crimes have increased since 2012. The most common motives men gave for such killings were jealousy and fear of abandonment, whereas women who murdered their own male partners often said that they did so in the wake of long-term patterns of physical violence in their relationship.

“Women continue to pay the highest price as a result of gender inequality, discrimination and negative stereotypes,” Yury Fedotov, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime Executive Director, told Agence France-Presse. “The fact that women continue to be affected by this type of violence to a greater degree than men is indicative of an imbalance in power relations between women and men inside the domestic sphere.”

The UN report found that Africa had the highest rate of women killed by intimate partners in 2017—such violence claimed about 1.7 percent of women in the region. The Americas had the second-highest rate, 1.2 percent; Oceania was ranked third at 0.9 percent; Europe was fourth with 0.6 percent; and Asia, which had the highest number of female homicides in 2017—a total of 20,000 recorded cases—was fifth, with 0.5 percent of those deaths resulting from intimate partner violence.

Data collection practices vary from country to country, and the report did not mention if transgender women were included in the statistics—but despite shortcomings, the findings still paint a stark and urgent picture for advocates worldwide. “There’s limitations to the data,” Jodie Roure, a professor at John Jay College in New York who has done extensive research on violence against women, told the New York Times. “Are we getting a perfect picture? No. But the important part is that we’re talking about it, because we weren’t talking about it not too long ago.”

This study, which was released during the UN’s annual 16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, also laid out recommendations for law enforcement officers, criminal justice agencies and health and social service sector leaders in order to reduce female homicides—and called on men to become allies to the women in their lives and communities.

“In order to prevent and tackle gender-related killing of women and girls,” it declared, “men need to be involved in efforts to combat intimate partner violence/family-related homicide and in changing cultural norms that move away from violent masculinity and gender stereotypes.”

Kohinur Khyum Tithila is a journalist based in Bangladesh. She is a Fulbright scholar and received her second master’s degree in Magazine, Newspaper, & Online Journalism from Syracuse University, first master’s degree in criminology and criminal justice from Dhaka University, and bachelor’s degree in English from East West University. Kohinur writes about LGBTQ and women’s issues, feminism, crime, secularism, social justice and human rights. She is also addicted to anything caffeinated.

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