Femicide Around the World


Gwen Touney, Journalist

Last year, South Africa declared a national crisis after 3,000 women were killed in 2018 and 2019. Femicide is a worldwide issue that is often overlooked, despite the fact that, according to Women Count USA, it kills 4 women per day in the United States, and disproportionately affects young, poor, trans, migrant, and minority women. In Mexico alone, there was an 145% increase in femicides between 2015 and 2019. While these numbers are already scary, experts estimate that these numbers are likely much higher.

Femicide can be divided into four main types; intimate, honor, dowry-related, and non-intimate. Intimate femicide is the murder of a woman by her current or former spouse. Men can fall victims of this too, though only 5% of all murders against men are by their partners, compared to a staggering 35% percent of all murders of women are committed by their partners, as reported by the World Health Organization. 

Femicide in the name of honor is defined as women being killed by male or female family members, if, in their view, the girl was a part of something that would jeopardize the family’s reputation. There are an estimated 5,000 honor killings per year, though getting data on this subject is difficult. It is hard to identify a killing as an honor killing, especially since certain criminal justice systems around the world classify femicide in the name of honor as a cultural tradition.

Dowry-related femicide is the killing of a woman in an arranged marriage, due to the two families fighting over dowry. This causes approximately 25,000 murders of women each year, according to the World Health Organization. 

Non-intimate femicide is the opposite of intimate femicide; the killing of women by male strangers. A 2009 study found there to be 500 femicides per year since 2001, solely in Guatemala. The WHO stated that in 2006, 2 mass shooters in the United States singled out women students and employees.

Though femicide may seem an unsolvable issue, there are various ways in which to bring justice to, or even prevent femicide victims. Some possible solutions presented by the World Health Organization include more surveillance and femicide screening, train healthcare workers (a large portion of femicide victims contact healthcare a year before they are murdered), mortuary workers, and law enforcement, in ways to identify femicide, document it, and help victims and their families, ensure the proper punishment of the perpetrators of femicide, increase gun control (women are three times more likely to be murdered when there is a gun present in their home), and increase research and awareness on femicide.