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U.N. report: Women, girls face higher risk of murder by family member

A United Nations report on gender-related violence finds 56% of the 81,000 women and girls murdered in 2021 were killed by a partner or family member. File photo by Nic Bothma/EPA-EFE/
A United Nations report on gender-related violence finds 56% of the 81,000 women and girls murdered in 2021 were killed by a partner or family member. File photo by Nic Bothma/EPA-EFE/

Nov. 23 (UPI) -- A new report finds that the deadliest place for many women and girls around the world is right at home, according to the United Nations.

The study released Wednesday by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, and the group U.N. Women, found 56% of the 81,000 women and girls murdered last year died at the hands of their husband, partner or other relative. That is an estimated 45,000 women and girls killed by a partner or family member in 2021, according to the United Nations.

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"Behind every femicide statistic is the story of an individual woman or girl who has been failed. These deaths are preventable -- the tools and the knowledge to do so already exist," said Sima Bahous, executive director at U.N. Women, who revealed many gender-related murders are never identified or counted.

The U.N. report on violence against women comes two days before the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Friday.

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"No woman or girl should fear for her life because of who she is," Ghana Waly, UNODC executive director, said in a statement. "To stop all forms of gender-related killings of women and girls, we need to count every victim, everywhere and improve understanding of the risks and drivers of femicide so we can design better and more effective prevention and criminal justice responses."

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Data from the U.N. study found a woman or girl is killed by an intimate partner or family member every 11 minutes.

"Violence against women and girls is the most pervasive human rights violation in the world," U.N. chief Antonio Guterres said Wednesday in a speech that also targeted rampant online violence, misogynistic hate speech and sexual harassment.

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"Every 11 minutes, a woman or a girl is killed by an intimate partner or family member -- and we know that other stresses, from the COVID-19 pandemic to economic turmoil, inevitably lead to even more physical and verbal abuse," Guterres said.

While domestic violence is a problem worldwide, the U.N. study found regional disparities. Asia recorded the largest number of gender-related killings at home in 2021, according to the United Nations. The report also found a significant rise in gender-related killings at home during the COVID-19 pandemic in North America and in Western and Southern Europe.

"This discrimination, violence and abuse targeting half of humanity come at a steep cost," Gutteres said. "It limits women's and girls' participation in all walks of life, denies their basic rights and freedoms and blocks the equal economic recovery and sustainable growth our world needs."

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