Every hour a woman or girl is murdered by someone in their own family, according to a new UN report on gender related killings of women and girls. The UN report doesn’t define this someone in great detail. And although men make up the majority of homicide victims in the world – these killings are outside the private sphere. For women and girls, their own home is the most dangerous place to be.
The new UN report, which is a collaboration between UNODC and UN Women, shows trends and difference between different regions. It highlights the importance of better data for more effective and targated policies against violence. For example, data from several countries in Asia and Eastern Europe show that deadly violence by for example a family member like a father, brother or cousin exceeds the deadly violence by a husband or boyfriend.
The findings presented in this brief, based on data from several countries in Asia and Eastern Europe, where rates of female family-related homicide exceed rates of female intimate partner homicide, demonstrate that interventions addressing gender related killings of women and girls need to target different types of perpetrators.
Violence against women is an epidemic.
The WHO has classified violence against women, including sexual violence, as a global epidemic. It’s been haunting the lives of women and girls for centuries. Women and girls are harrassed and attacked in other spaces as well when going about their days. It takes place in schools, on public transportation, on streets, in houses of prayer and at workplaces. Some of this violence goes on until it is deadly.
Sexual violence in conflict.
Sexual violence against women is a strategy of war – a war crime that aims to dismantle the power of civil society. It is taking place in Ukraine, where reports of Russian troops armed with viagra are strategically using sexual violence as a military strategy. This takes place in all armed conflicts and wars – from the DRC to Syria. Women and girls are also more at risk for sexual violence on the
How can we overcome the deadly violence without addressing the perpetrators properly?
It is shocking to me that the UN report, which does shine a light on important disparities, doesn’t properly put the focus where it should be – on the perpetrators.
Men are disproportionately overrepresented in the deadly violence against women and girls around the world – yet far too often we talk about this as a women’s issue.
Violence against women, isn’t only a women’s issue – it’s a men’s issue.
Men aren’t only overrepresented in the violent and sometimes deadly crimes against women, they are also overrepresented in the violence they perpetrate on each other and others.
We need to have survivor-centered responses to the violence. However, when media, civil society, governments and the UN continue to focus fully on the victims of violence, we do women and girls a disservice. We need to step up to address the perpetrators to end impunity, rape culture and the epidemic of femicides.
But, not all men.
When feminist activists, gender equality advocates and civil society organizations speak out for a world free from violence, they often meet anti-feminist rhetoric. “Why do you talk about men as if all men are the enemy here?”
Yes, we know – not all men are violent. Not all men rape. Not all men are perpetrators. However the majority of perpetrators of violent and deadly crimes are men – and the power systems that we live in create a dangerous environment for people of all genders.
The same systems that oppress women are harmful to men.
The normalization of macho-culture, toxic masculinity and the narrow definitions of gender roles within societies force men from living up to their fullest potential.
In a world where 1 in 3 women will experience violence, suicide rates and homicide rates are highest for men. Men experience loneliness, addiction and depression in high rates. We have a problem for everyone.
Gender equality and feminism (which is the movement for equality between genders) is not the enemy of men – the existing system we live in is.
We need better data and a better understanding of boys and men to end violence against women (and others).
What aspects of traditions, cultures and experiences lead men into violence? How do they see the world? How has the normalization of extreme violence in porn and mainstream media affected them? What are their fears and desires? How do they define their gender roles and masculinity? How do they define love and affection?
When we can clearly identify the responses to these questions, we can begin to unravel the dangerous systems that oppress us all and begin to eliminate violence against women through prevention.
Until then, we need stronger laws, better accountability mechanisms and an end to impunity in our legal systems, coupled with other strong survivor-focused responses.