About 45,000 women and girls worldwide were killed by intimate partners or other family members in 2021, which means more than five women or girls are killed every hour by someone in their own family.
When 11 per cent of all male homicides are perpetrated in the private sphere, revealing that home is not a safe place for many women and girls, said the report by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and UN womensaid.
“The overall number of female homicides has remained largely unchanged over the past decade. Globally, an estimated 81,100 women and girls were killed intentionally in 2021,” the report said.
“Concerted, urgent action is needed, to improve the knowledge base and strengthen responses to gender related killings and other forms of gender-based violence against women and girls. With the aim of galvanizing global action against this all-too pervasive crime, UNODC and UN women have joined forces this year to produce the second edition of this report, said UNODC Executive Director Ghada Walyand UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous.
Individuals, not statistics
“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,” said Sima Bahous.
The report is a horrific reminder that violence against women and girls is one of the most pervasive human rights violations worldwide.
The figures also show that the overall number of female homicides has remained largely unchanged over the past decade, underscoring the urgency for stronger action on prevention and response.
Count every victim
Too many victims still go uncounted, according to the report. For roughly four in 10 women and girls killed intentionally in 2021, insufficient information exists to identify their deaths as femicide.
“No woman or girl should fear for her life because of who she is,” said Ghada Waly.
“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.”
“There’s even less data available on gender-related killings committed in the public sphere,” she said, referring to incidents connected to armed conflict, gang activity, and human trafficking or other forms of organized crime.
- While Asia is the region with the largest absolute number of killings, Africa is the region with the highest level of violence relative to the size of its female population
- Most killings of women and girls are gender motivated. In 2021, around 45,000 women and girls worldwide were killed by their intimate partners or other family members.
- While the overwhelming majority of homicides worldwide are committed against men and boys (81%), women and girls are disproportionately affected by homicidal violence in the private sphere. Approximately 56% of all female homicides are committed by intimate partners or other family members, while only 11% of all male homicides are perpetrated in the private sphere.
- Of the estimated 81,100 female homicides in 2021, roughly four in ten have no contextual information to allow them to be identified and counted as gender-related killings (femicide/feminicide). Data on gender-related killings committed in the public sphere are particularly scarce, making it difficult to inform prevention policies for these types of killings.
- Between 2010 and 2021, Europe witnessed an average reduction in the number of female intimate partner/family-related homicides (by -19%), albeit with differences across sub-regions and with signs of trend reversals since 2020 in some sub-regions such as Western and Southern Europe. By contrast, the Americas recorded an average increase over the same period (by 6%), with the South American sub-region notably moving in the opposite direction. Limited data availability means that the estimation of over-time trends is not possible in Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
- In Northern America, and to a lesser extent in Western and Southern Europe, the year 2020 was particularly deadly in terms of gender-related killings of women and girls in the private sphere
- Disaggregated trend data from 25 countries in Europe and the Americas indicate that increases in emale homicides in the private sphere at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic were driven primarily by increases in killings perpetrated by family members other than intimate partners. The increases in female family-related homicides at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic were larger than any yearly variations observed since 2015
“This discrimination, violence and abuse targeting half of humanity comes at a steep cost”, Secretary-General António Guterres underscored in his message on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women,
“It limits women’s and girls’ participation in all walks of life, denies their basic rights and freedoms, and blocks the equal economic recovery and sustainable growth our world needs,” he said.
He upheld that it is time for “transformative action” that ends violence against women and girls – the most pervasive human rights violation in the world.
The top UN official outlined what needed to be done, including that governments design, fund and implement national action plans to tackle this scourge.
According to the UN chief, this year’s theme, “UNITE: Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls”, reminds everyone to stand with activists around the world demanding change and support survivors of violence.
“I call on governments to increase funding by 50 per cent to women’s rights organizations and movements by 2026”, he stated.
In closing, the Secretary-General advocated for the world to “take a stand and raise our voices in support of women’s rights…[and] proudly declare: We are all feminists”.
“Supporting and investing in strong, autonomous women’s rights organizations and feminist movements is key to ending violence against women and girls”, says the UN.