Gender-related killings of women and girls (femicide/feminicide)


The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Vienna and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), New York, published this research brief on November 23, 2022. The brief presents and analyses the global estimates on gender-related killings of women and girls in 2021, especially in the private sphere. It is also the fifth issue in UNODC’s Data Matters series launched in 2021.

The findings of the brief show that in 2021, around 45,000 women and girls across the world were killed by their partners or other family members. This amounts to more than five women or girls killed every hour by someone close to them. While the majority of the homicides against men and boys happen in the public sphere, women and girls face overwhelming amount of ‘homicidal violence’ within the private sphere.

Discussing the incidence of violence against women, the brief also presents case studies from different parts of the world to understand the causes and responses to the same. It also addresses the problem of poor data collection that hinders the identification of gender-related killings of women and girls. Further, it discusses the measures that have been or can be implemented to prevent gender-related killings and other forms of gender-based violence.

The 48-page document consists of various sections including key findings, unidentified and uncounted gender-related killings, estimates of women killed by intimate partners or families, the impact of Covid-19 on gender-related homicide, and policy responses to such killings.


  1. In 2021, an estimated 81,100 women and girls across the world were victims of intentional killings. The brief adds that more than half (56 per cent) of all female homicides recorded in 2021 were committed by intimate partners or other family members of the victims.

  2. With an estimated 17,800 victims, Asia recorded the largest number of female homicides by intimate partner or other family members in 2021. Africa was a close second with 17,200 such homicides, followed by the Americas with 7,500 incidences.

  3. Africa had the highest rate of killings of women and girls (by intimate partners or family members) per 100,000 female population – 2.5 homicides per 100,000 females. It was followed by the Americas (1.4 homicides) and Oceania (1.2 homicides).

  4. As per the report, Europe and the Americas were the only regions which had adequate data to estimate and track homicides of women and girls by intimate partners or family members over a period of time.

  5. Pointing to the problem of data gaps, the brief states that accurate information on female homicides from Africa, Asia and Oceania is still hard to source. Although data on overall homicides are widely available, gendered data on homicide victims in these regions are recorded poorly.

  6. Between 2020 and 2021, killing of women and girls by intimate partners or family members increased by 9.9 per cent in Central America and the Caribbean and by 5.3 per cent in Southern Europe. The incidences declined in Western Europe by 10.5 per cent, in Eastern Europe by 3.4 per cent and in South America by 1.7 per cent.

  7. Only 133 of the 193 Member States of the United Nations had reported data that distinguished between male and female victims in 2021. Even fewer Member States (97 out of 193) provided information on the relationship between the victims and perpetrators of the homicides. This means four out of 10 female homicides in 2021 could not be examined to check whether they were gender-related killings.

  8. Although region-wise data is unavailable, trend data from certain Asian and African countries suggest a gradual decline in gender-related killings. The brief illustrates this with the example of India where dowry-related violent deaths as well as those related to gender or even accusations of witchcraft reduced over the previous decade.

  9. Information on homicides involving marginalized groups such as aboriginal and indigenous women and girls is extremely limited, notes the brief. Data from Canada and Australia – sourced from a report by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – suggested that women of indigenous communities suffer from a high amount of homicidal violence.

  10. The brief recommends five areas around which responses to gender-related killings can be undertaken: collection of improved data and evidence; reformation of laws, policies and protocols; police and judicial responses that centre the survivor; the strengthening of civil society and women’s rights organizations; and preventive measures like early intervention and assessment of risk to women.

    Focus and Factoids by Violina Mahanta.

    PARI Library’s health archive project is part of an initiative supported by the Azim Premji University to develop a free-access repository of health-related reports relevant to rural India.


Research and Trend Analysis Branch, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Ending Violence Against Women Section, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)


United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)


23 Nov, 2022