Some Rich Nations Deadlier for Women than Men, says Study

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Photo by Alex Santosa via Flickr

Photo by Alex Santosa via Flickr

Photo by Alex Santosa via Flickr

Women and girls in eight of the world’s richest countries are experiencing levels of violent deaths as high as–or higher than–men, according to a study produced for the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The majority of those nations were European, with the remainder in Asia, based on 2015 figures analyzed by the Small Arms Survey in the third of a series of “research notes” on global violence financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Even in those industrialized countries where there have been declines in homicide rates for men and women, rates of domestic and intimate partner violence “have proven particularly difficult to reduce,” according to the study.

The study, “A Gendered Analysis of Violent Deaths,” was released last week to coincide with the UN Secretary-General’s “16 days of Activism (Nov 25-Dec 10) Campaign Against Gender-Based Violence.”

According to the study, the high-income nations –Austria, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Slovenia, and Switzerland—have all experienced declining levels of violence; but the homicide rate for females either outpaces or matches males when the researchers apply what they term a “gendered”  measurement.

Editor’s note: The study included Hong Kong as a nation, though formally it is an autonomous “special administrative region” of China.

The key tool used by the researchers in producing their results was comparing data “disaggregated” by gender–unlike traditional homicide rates measured against the entire population.

In absolute numbers, more men are victims of homicide than women (in the U.S. and globally), but the study’s use of gender disaggregation was aimed at finding a tool to measure the relative risks faced by women in different areas of the world–particularly in industrialized countries which have otherwise seen overall declines of violence.

In most conflict countries where there is civil conflict and reduced public safety, the study found both men and women suffer equally high numbers of violent deaths—with some exceptions, such as Afghanistan, where the number of female deaths rose by 70 per cent between 2009-2015, while the total number of civilian deaths increased by 47 percent.

That may be because, the study suggested, the Afghanistan killings target “prominent women human rights and defenders and other women working in public life,” such as police and parliamentarians.

In their preliminary conclusions, the study authors (Mireille Widmer and Irene Pavesi) said the figures reflect little progress in industrialized countries in tackling domestic violence: “Among the types of violence affecting women globally, intimate partner homicide remains a concern.”

The study also found : “Germany and Switzerland are among just six countries in the world, all European, where more women than men were killed by firearms.”

The full study is available here.


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