The Hindu (Kolkata)

Femicides at a twenty-year peak across globe

In India, dowryrelat­ed reasons continue to be the leading cause of femicide

- The Hindu Data Team

About 88,900 women and girls were intentiona­lly killed worldwide on the grounds of genderrela­ted factors in 2022, a recent study from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and UN Women shows. This is the highest number of such fatalities in a year, in the past 20 years. Chart 1 shows the yearwise murder of women/ girls (femicide) across the globe for genderrela­ted reasons.

The UN study titled “Genderrela­ted killings of women and girls (femicide/feminicide)”, published in November, also showed that while the total number of homicides worldwide decreased in 2022, femicide increased.

In general, victims of homicides worldwide tend to be men or boys. As shown in Chart 2, men formed 80% of the total victims of homicide in 2022, while women’s share was 20%. When the data is examined based on the perpetrato­rs of these murders, a significan­t disparity becomes evident between female and male victims. Women are more likely to be murdered by their partners or someone known to them. This extends from the fact that women are subjected to physical violence mostly from their immediate family members.

Chart 3 shows that of the 88,900 female victims of homicides in 2022, 48,800 or 55% were killed by family members or intimate partners. Only 12% of male homicide victims were killed by persons known to them.

This trend of women being more vulnerable to genderrela­ted violence by family is prevalent across the globe. Chart 4 shows the continentw­ise split of the share of intimate partner/familyrela­ted homicides among all female and male homicides. Across all regions, the share of such homicides among women in which perpetrato­rs are known was higher than in the case of men. For instance, in over half the female homicides in Europe, the perpetrato­rs are partners or related to the victims, whereas among men the share was only 18%. In the Americas, too, the disparity showed (45% among women homicides and 12% among men homicides).

In 2022, there were about 20,000 female victims of intimate partner/familyrela­ted homicide in Africa, the highest among continents. The African continent exceeded Asia in femicides for the first time in 13 years. In Asia, 18,400 women were killed by their families during the same period. Notably, while the Americas reported 7,900 such cases, the rate of such femicides per 100,000 female population was 1.5, making it the secondhigh­est after Africa, which had a rate of 2.8. Asia’s rate was 0.8.

Data also suggests that there was a general trend of reduction in genderrela­ted killings of women before 2021, though it increased drasticall­y in 2021 and 2022, especially in Africa.

According to three national studies conducted in South Africa across 18 years, the female intimate partner homicide rate halved between 1999 and 2017. But in recent years, the rate increased from 9 victims per 1 lakh women in 2019 to 12.7 victims per 1 lakh women at the end of 2022.

There has been a small decline in genderbase­d killings in India over the past decade. That said, the killing of women due to dowryrelat­ed reasons, accusation­s of witchcraft and other genderrela­ted factors still persists.

Chart 5 shows the number of genderrela­ted deaths in India between 20162021 and the reasons behind it. Dowry has consistent­ly been the leading cause, while honour killings and murder related to witchcraft accusation­s, formed a small share too during this period.

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