By Sunny Lim
One of the biggest threats to women internationally and domestically isn’t in a combat zone nor an operating room. The biggest issue is inside homes–domestic violence.
Last year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released a booklet about a global study regarding statistics about women and girls who were killed by intimate partners or family members, causes, and characteristics of victims and perpetrators.
They released the booklet on November 25–the designated date for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
The booklet’s key finding was shocking–out of the 87,000 female murder victims recorded internationally in 2017, 58 percent were killed by intimate partners or family members.
In Asia, 20,000 women were murdered, and in Africa, 19,000 women were killed. In the Americas, 8,000 women were murdered in addition to 3,000 women in Europe and 300 women in Oceania. These statistics showed homes and the family members as the prime threats to women across the globe.
The booklet also arranged these killings into 10 identifiable categories:
- Intimate partner and domestic violence
- Aboriginal and indigenous women
- Extreme forms
- Sexual orientation and gender identity
- Witchcraft accusations
- Other forms
- Sex workers
Intimate partner and domestic violence
This category included current or former intimate partners who murdered women. Family members–parents, siblings, extended relatives–also were grouped into this category.
Honor-related killings occurred when family members believed the female relatives had committed an act or behaved in a way which shamed the family’s reputation. An example of honor-related killings was a woman murdered by her male relatives for eloping with someone other than her arranged husband.
Brides were murdered or pushed to commit suicide after facing harassment and attacks from grooms’ family members in order to extort dowry payments or demand higher prices.
During wars, mass murders and rapes of women were used as a form of weaponization.
Aboriginal and indigenous women
Because of economic, social, and systematic marginalization of aboriginal and indigenous women, they were more vulnerable and targeted for murder and rape. Their murder and rape cases were overlooked as well.
Extreme forms referred to women murdered in environments related to drug trafficking, gangs, migrations, exploitation, and organized crime.
Sexual orientation and gender identity
This category referred to women who were murdered because their sexual orientations or gender identities were seen as “abnormal” in heteronormative societies.
Witchcraft and sorcery accusations
Like the Salem witch trials, many women were murdered in 2017 because of accusations of witchcraft and malicious sorcery.
Other forms of gender-related murders
Some specific cultural norms and beliefs have brought harm and even death to young women such as child marriages and female genital mutilation.
Female sex workers
The men who murdered female sex workers felt entitled and superior. Not all murders of female sex workers were gender-related. Some murders involved motives such as robbery and conflict over the fee paid for service.
According to the booklet, almost all gender-related murders were pre-meditated.
These staggering statistics show gender-based violence is an ongoing threat against women and girls both domestically and internationally. Many people across the globe are trying to help through protesting, creating protective laws, building shelters, educating communities, and arranging task forces.
The founder and volunteers of Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence are also playing a role in reducing these statistics.
BTSADV offers various forms of support to domestic violence survivors and family members of victims.
We offer our Angel Scholarship program. Our scholarships are named after our angels who have passed away because of domestic violence. People who are survivors or have been affected by domestic violence are all eligible to apply.
Our National Speakers Bureau offers award-winning speakers who share powerful stories of healing and learning to conferences and other events across the country.
Our annual Survivor Sister Retreat connects survivors with one another, promotes healing, and encourages empowerment. During the retreat, survivors bond and participate in workshops along with activities to demonstrate effective ways of self-care and create healing journeys to challenge survivors to step outside of their comfort zones.
There is also an annual Angel Retreat for people who have lost loved ones to domestic violence. This retreat connects families together and provides a safe space for grieving and sharing memories. Families can also learn from each other about different ways of coping strategies.
Our survivor helpline is run by survivors for survivors. Most of our helpline advocates have career experiences related to therapy and advocacy. Our helpline is a home away from home. If you feel like you can’t talk about your experiences with people around you, please call us. We want to support and listen.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.