A woman is killed every 11 minutes by an intimate partner or a family member, states UN report

While the overwhelming majority of male homicides occur outside the private sphere, for women and girls, the most dangerous place is the home

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Representative Image

NH Web Desk

A woman or a girl is killed every 11 minutes by an intimate partner or a family member and approximately 56% of all female homicides are committed by intimate partners or other family members, reiterated Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary General, ahead of the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25.

“Violence against women is the most pervasive human rights violation in the world and governments should implement national action plans that tackle this scourge–involving grass-roots and civil society groups at every stage of decision-making and ensuring that laws are implemented and respected, so survivors see their rights to justice and support upheld,” he said on Wednesday.

Guterres’ remark has come at a time when India is processing the brutal killing of 27-year-old Shraddha Walkar by her live-in partner Aftab Amin Poonawala. The accused bought a 300-litre fridge and stored the body parts of Shraddha before dumping them across Mehrauli forest in Delhi. As this grisly case develops in the nation, several gender-rights activists and researchers have urged Indian policymakers to pay heed to intimate partner violence.

The UN report reveals that women and girls in all regions are affected by gender-based killings. While Asia is the region with the largest absolute number of killings, Africa is the region with the highest level of violence relative to the size of its female population. While the overwhelming majority of male homicides (81 per cent) occur outside the private sphere, for women and girls, the most dangerous place is the home.

A 2021 World Health Organisation (WHO) report revealed that globally, one in every three women experience physical or sexual violence from their intimate partners across their lifetime, making intimate partner violence the most prevalent form of violence in the world.

The report revealed that women who experienced violence were 1.3 times more likely to report mental and emotional stress than those who had not. Seven in 10 said they thought verbal or physical abuse by a partner became more common during the pandemic, and three in 10 were of the opinion that violence against women, in their community, had increased.

The latest report suggested that violence starts early for women (aged 15-24 years). One in four women who have been in a relationship will have already experienced violence by an intimate partner by the time they reach their mid-twenties.

The WHO also highlights that the likelihood of women undergoing intimate partner violence in their lifetime is at a higher range in the Global South than in the Global North.

“No woman or girl should fear for her life because of who she is,” said Ghana Waly, UNODC executive director, 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."

Intimate Partner Violence in India

In India, as per the latest NCRB data, crimes against women exponentially rose during the pandemic when women were constrained inside their homes. The total registered cases in 2021 stood at 4,28,278 – a 15.3 per cent increase from the registered cases in 2020. A majority of these cases, 31.8 per cent, fell under the ‘domestic violence’ category, which is defined as “cruelty by husband or relatives” in India.

The NCRB data between 2001 and 2018 suggest that there has been a 53 per cent increase in the number of domestic violence cases reported in India.

According to the NCRB report, the majority of cases under crime against women were registered under ‘Cruelty by Husband or His Relatives’ (31.8 per cent), followed by ‘Assault on Women with Intent to Outrage her Modesty’ (20.8 per cent), ‘Kidnapping and Abduction of Women’ (17.6 per cent), and ‘Rape’ (7.4%). West Bengal reported the highest number of cases of cruelty against women by spouses or their relatives in 2021, according to NCRB. A total of 19,952 cases under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with violence against women by husbands and their relatives, were registered in the state.

Uttar Pradesh followed West Bengal with 18,375 such cases recorded, and Rajasthan where 16,949 cases were registered. Among metropolitan cities, Delhi reported the most cases of such violence at 4,674. In Kolkata, the figure stood at 841, much below those of Hyderabad (1,678), Jaipur (1,200) and Lucknow (1,101).

Additionally, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), which was conducted during the period, stated that one in three women in India – between ages 18 and 45 – experienced spousal abuse.

Between 25 March and 31 May 2020, the National Commission for Women (NCW) received 1,477 complaints of domestic violence. Nearly 727 of these complaints were received on its WhatsApp helpline (+917217735372 ) set up in April to ensure women, who couldn’t access emails or send complaints by post, could receive help. However, the total number of complaints during the 68-day period was 1.5 times the complaints received during the same year in 2020.

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