Christine de Pizan

Christine de Pizan
The Writer Christine de Pizan at Her Desk

Monday, November 26, 2018

Back to the Future, Part 11: Gilead Redux

Back to the Future, Part 11: Home, The Most Dangerous Place for Women (or, Gilead Redux)

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has just issued a stunning new report, a Global Study on Homicide: Gender-Related Killing of Women and Girls.*

In the press-release announcing the publication, the UNODC begins with a statement that is shocking but, upon reflection, is not at all surprising: "Home," the study says, is "the most dangerous place for women." 

Why? Because 58% of all murders of women and girls occur at the hands of their intimate partners or family members. To put this in terms that are painfully stark, every hour of every day, some six women are killed "by people they know." 

In other words, "137 women across the world are killed by a member of their own family every day. More than a third (30,000) of the women intentionally killed in 2017 were killed by their current or former intimate partner ̶ someone they would normally expect to trust" (Gender-Related Killing, 10).

And, even more painfully stark,  "little progress has been made in preventing such murders." In fact, the "annual number of female deaths worldwide resulting from intimate partner/family-related homicide . . . seems be on the increase" (10).

The study also examines other forms of "femicide": "gender-related killings perpetrated outside the family sphere." Such gender-related killings include systematic killings of women in armed conflicts, gender-based killing of aboriginal/indigenous women, killing of female sex workers, killings as a result of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, among others (30-38).

UNODC, Gender-Related Killing of Women and Girls, p. 7

Globally, 1 of every 5 homicides is "perpetrated by an intimate partner or family member." But, 
women and girls make up the vast majority of those deaths. Victim/perpetrator disaggregations reveal a large disparity in the shares attributable to male and female victims of homicides committed by intimate partners or family members: 36 per cent male versus 64 per cent female victims. Women also bear the greatest burden in terms of intimate partner violence. The disparity between the shares of male and female victims of homicide perpetrated exclusively by an intimate partner is substantially larger than of victims of homicide perpetrated by intimate partners or family members: roughly 82 per cent female victims versus 18 per cent male victims. (11)
UNODC, Gender-Related Killing of Women and Girls, p. 11

As if all this isn't enough, here's one last cheerful note: "While the killing of a person tends to be recorded by the police more effectively than other crimes, it is well evidenced that violence against women is poorly reported to the police and that a large share of it remains hidden." And, of course, "[v]iolence against women is almost universally underreported" (42-43). 

The problem is global--many of the graphs in the report show statistics for specific countries all around the world. While none of the charts and/or graphs gives statistics for the United States, the situation in homes in the United States is no different than in other countries; as the CDC reported earlier this year, "[o]ver half of all female homicides (55.3%) are Intimate Partner Violence related." 

So, happy holidays?

*As the UNODC notes, "not all female homicides are gender related. Therefore, only a specific, if considerable, share can be labelled 'gender-related killings of women and girls,' i.e. 'femicide'" (9).

For more fun stories on the state of affairs for women and girls, click on the label "Back to the Future," below.