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Family or partners kill women in US twice as often as in Europe

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Every day last year, an average of 137 women across the world were murdered by a family member or an intimate partner, according to research published Sunday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime on Sunday (UNODC). Released on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the report provides the public and policy makers with data on the lethal impact of gender-based violence on women’s lives.

“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,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov in a statement.“They are also the most likely to be killed by intimate partners and family.”

And where in the world a woman lives matters in regard to these crimes. In the U.S., according to data from the Centers for Disease Control, more than half of women who are murdered (55 percent) die at the hands of a family member or partner. In contrast, according to the UNODC report, only 24 percent of women in Europe are killed by someone they know—meaning that lethal violence affects American women at twice the rate it does women in other parts of the global North.

On top of that, domestic violence doesn’t affect all American women equally. According to 2009 data compiled by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, black women are four times more likely than white women to be murdered by an intimate partner. 

According to UN researchers, 87,000 women around the world were “intentionally killed” over the course of 2017. More than half of these murders (50,000, or 58 percent) were perpetrated by a family member or intimate partner, and more than a third (30,000) of the killings were committed by a current or former intimate partner. These findings mean that overall, the place that a woman is most likely to face lethal violence isn’t in the outside world but in her own home. 

Some women were found to be at a greater risk than others of experiencing interpersonal violence, UNODC found. Calculated at a per capita rate, the region where women were the most likely to be killed by a family member of intimate partner in 2017 was Africa (3.1 per 100,000 female population), followed by the Americas (1.6), Oceania (1.3) and Asia (0.9). 

Statistics can sometimes bury the real-life impact of interpersonal violence on women and girls. On November 20, a gunman stormed into Mercy Hospital in Chicago and killed his ex-fiancée, an African-American emergency room physician named Tamara O’Neal. Moments before was shot to death, O’Neal dialed 911 to say her former partner was approaching her and that she feared for her life, according to CBS News

The violence Black women face is a complex phenomenon with deep historical roots, wrote writer Feminista Jones in a 2014 piece for Time“For centuries, our bodies and labor have been exploited to serve the needs of everyone but ourselves, and the physical and psychological toll can no longer be swept under the rug,” she said. “We must all work to end the marginalization of Black women and focus our energies on amplifying our voices and sharing what we go through at home, at work, and in our communities.”

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