Homicide kills more people than armed conflict; Women continue to bear 'greatest burden'

Homicide kills more people than armed conflict; Women continue to bear 'greatest burden'
In Mexico City, an artistic installation consisting of a number of signs of Venus, representing women, stresses the magnitude of femicidal violence. Picture: UN Women/ Dzilam Mendez.

A study from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has shown that homicide has caused more deaths worldwide than armed conflict and terrorism combined.

In 2017, 464,000 people across the globe were killed in homicides, far surpassing the 89,000 people killed in armed conflicts in the same period.

Organised crime was responsible for 19% of homicides in 2017, killing approximately as many people as all armed conflicts combined.

  • Homicide in 1992: 395,542
  • Homicide in 2017: 464,000

The global homicide rate (measured as the victims of homicide per 100,000) declined from 7.2 in 1992 to 6.1 in 2017 due to the rise of the global population.

The study found that most homicide victims are men, but women were more often killed by family and intimate partners.

Specifically, 81% of homicide victims were men and boys, with more than 90% of suspects in homicide cases also men.

Girls and boys aged nine and under were found to be killed at roughly the same rate.

In all regions, the likelihood of boys becoming victims of homicide increases with age- with males aged between 15 and 29 at the highest risk of homicide worldwide.

The study said:

Although women and girls account for a far smaller share of victims in homicide in general than men, they continue to bear by far the greatest burden of intimate partner and family-related homicide.

The study shows that the safest locations are in Asia, Europe and Oceania (Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia) where murder rates are 2.3 and 3.0 per 100,000 people. The global average is 6.1.

Central America is the most dangerous region to live, where the number of homicides or unlawful killings can reach 62.1 per 100,000 people.

Europe in particular saw a large decline in the homicide rate by 63% since 2002.

In a specific part of the study dedicated to 'femicide', data showed that 137 women are killed every single day. The study said: "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."

Homicide kills more people than armed conflict; Women continue to bear 'greatest burden'

UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov noted that the phenomenon is often under-reported and "too often ignored".

He added: "The Global Study on Homicide seeks to shed light on gender-related killings, lethal gang violence and other challenges, to support prevention and interventions to bring down homicide rates.

"Countries have committed to targets under the Sustainable Development Goals to reduce all forms of violence and related death rates by 2030.

"This report offers important examples of effective community-based interventions that have helped to bring about improvements in areas afflicted by violence, gangs and organized crime."

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