U.N. report outlines growth of ‘femicide’

On Nov. 25, the U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released a report noting that of the 87,000 recorded female homicide cases in 2017, 58 percent, or around 50,000, were committed by an intimate partner or family member of the victim. The study was released in conjunction with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

“After hearing that statistic, I’m surprised it wasn’t higher,” said sophomore Delaney Taylor. “I would have thought it was in the 75 percent range.”

One of the main purposes of the report was to shed light on the growth of “femicide” culture. “Femicide” is a term that has been officially coined by the U.N. and several nations’ legislation, which relates to homicides that are gender-related.

Because the term has not been generally accepted across all countries, “femicide” is presented with quotation marks. However, eighteen Latin American countries have established the criminal offense of “femicide,” when a woman is killed on the basis of her gender.

From the report, the continent with the largest number of women killed worldwide by a family member or intimate partner was Asia at 20,000. Africa followed with 19,000, then the Americas at 8,000, Europe at 3,000 and Oceania at 300. The intimate partner or family-related homicide rate for the Americas was 1.6 per 100,000 female population.

The study also noted that women bear a greater burden in relation to intimate partner violence. Of intimate violence victims, 82 percent were female.

NPR’s Diane Cole spoke with Angela Me, chief of UNODC’s research and trend analysis branch, who provided further review of the report. Me highlighted that all reported killings of women by intimate partners were committed by men. There were no statistics for same sex relationship killings.

Of all the intimate partner or family-related homicides from last year, 64 percent of the victims were female. Me noted that age was not a considered variable for who was more at risk, however, younger victims have been targeted in dowry killings. In India last year, 7,000 women were killed in dowry-related disputes.

Honor killings, or murder resulting from the belief that a female family member’s behavior has brought shame or dishonor upon the family, were common in the report as well.

“I don’t think there is anything honorable about killing women,” said junior Shayne Kenny. “At the end of the day, honor killings perpetuate multiple, bad, (oppressive) ideas. It is similar to when white, Christian preachers tell women they are submitting to God by submitting to their husbands, and defying your husband would mean defying God.

“I think honor killings perpetuate the idea that women are objects that can be owned and sold. Their life is less valuable than a man’s. In fact, honor killings are just a tool used to oppress women and convey the idea that they are sexual objects. How is my virginity more valuable than my life?”

There are several steps suggested by Me to combat global “femicide.” Most notably was that resources must be available across the world for women who ask for protection, such as a criminal justice system that can provide restraining orders. She also pushed for educating young men, and encouraging them to champion the concept of rejecting violence against women. Guilford students agreed.

“Men need to be educated more at a younger age,” said Taylor. “There is so much emphasis on techniques women need in order to protect themselves, but there needs to be a dialogue for younger men.”