Research – Domestic Homicide – HALT – Manchester Metropolitan University

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The research looked into themes across four agencies: criminal justice, physical and mental health, children’s services, and adult social care. One of the key findings was that the vast majority of victims and perpetrators were known to services before a domestic homicide.

A total of 87,000 women were intentionally killed in 2017. More than half of them (58 per cent) 50,000 ̶ ̶ were killed by intimate partners or other family members, meaning that 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. Based on revised data, the estimated number of women killed by intimate partners or other family members in 2012 was 48,000 (47 per cent of all female homicide victims). The annual number of female deaths worldwide resulting from intimate partner/family-related homicide therefore seems be on the increase.

The largest number (20,000) of all women killed worldwide by intimate partners or other family members in 2017 was in Asia, followed by Africa (19,000), the Americas (8,000), Europe (3,000) and Oceania (300).
However, with an intimate partner/family-related homicide rate of 3.1 per 100,000 female population, Africa is the region where women run the greatest risk of being killed by an intimate partner or other family member, while Europe (0.7 per 100,000 female population) is the region where the risk is lowest. The intimate partner/family-related homicide rate was also high in the Americas in 2017, at 1.6 per 100,000 female population, as well as Oceania, at 1.3, and Asia, at 0.9.

These findings show that even though men are the principal victims of homicide globally, women continue to bear the heaviest burden of lethal victimization as a result of gender stereotypes and inequality. Many
of the victims of “femicide” are killed by their current and former partners, but they are also killed by fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters and other family members because of their role and status as women. The death of those killed by intimate partners does not usually result from random or spontaneous acts, but rather from the culmination of prior gender-related violence. Jealousy and fear of abandonment are among the motives.

Through the indicator “female victims of homicide perpetrated by intimate partners or other family members”, this booklet quantifies a significant share of all gender-related killings of women and girls perpetrated globally, including forms that are prevalent across certain regions, such as dowry and honour killing. Given the lack of data, it is not possible to quantify the number of gender-related killings outside the family, but the booklet describes their different manifestations and provides examples where information is available. The information available shows that, other than gender-related killings in conflict settings, gender-related killings of women and girls outside the family are relatively rare in comparison to killings perpetrated by intimate partners or other family members.

Countries have taken action to address violence against women and gender-related killings in different ways, by adopting legal changes, early interventions and multi-agency efforts, as well as creating special units and implementing training in the criminal justice system. Countries in Latin America have adopted
legislation that criminalizes femicide as a specific offence in their criminal codes. Yet there are no signs of a decrease in the number of gender-related killings of women and girls.

This booklet highlights what more can be done to prevent those killings. A more comprehensive range of coordinated services needs to be provided by the police, criminal justice systems, and health and social services. Moreover, in order to prevent and tackle gender-related killing of women and girls, 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.

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