AnnaMarie Houlis
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Journalist & travel blogger

Gender equality isn't yet a thing and, as such, women may expect to feel the safest in the comfort of their own homes. But, as it turns out, women are not so safe there, after all.  

Around 137 women around the world were murdered on a daily basis by their own family members and partners in 2017, a study of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) finds. 

This adds up to a rate of 1.3 victims of female homicides by family members or intimate partners per 100,000 females — or about six women killed every hour by people they know. The murder rate means that the home actually turns out to be the most dangerous place for women to be.

The study, which was released on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, focused on family-related and intimate partner homicides, and how these homicides relate to the status and roles of women in society and the home.

"A total of 87,000 women were intentionally killed in 2017," according to the study. "More than half of them (58 percent) were killed by intimate partners or family members. More than a third of the women intentionally killed in 2017 were killed by their current or former intimate partners — someone they would normally expect to trust."

Women are increasingly unsafe in their homes, as the number of intentional killings seems to be climbing. The estimated number of women killed by intimate partners or family members in 2012 was 48,000 (which accounted for 47 percent of all female homicide victims).

Today, women in Asia and Africa face the most risk of being killed by family members or intimate partners. In North and South America, the rate is 1.6 victims per 100,000 females, according to the research. 

"While the vast majority of homicide victims are men, women continue to pay the highest price as a result of gender inequality, discrimination and negative stereotypes; they are also the most likely to be killed by intimate partners and family," UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said.

Only one out of every five homicides at the global level is perpetrated by a family member or intimate partner, but women and girls make up the vast majority of those deaths, the research reports.

"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 percent male versus 64 percent female victims," according to the study.

The research sheds light on the need for more effective crime prevention and criminal justice responses to violence against women, recommending greater coordination between the police, justice system and health and social services.

"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," the study reads. "Countries in Latin America have adopted legislation that criminalizes femicide as a specific offense in their penal codes. Yet there are no signs of a decrease in the number of gender-related killings of women and girls."

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.

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