The COVID-19 pandemic is overshadowing the pandemic of femicides and gender-based violence against women and girls, said Dubravka Šimonovic, special rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, in a statement on Monday (23 Nov).
Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – which falls on 25 November – Ms Dubravka is calling for the establishment of national femicide watches or observatories around the world to prevent such killings.
“As the world grapples with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on women, a pandemic of femicide and gender-based violence against women is taking the lives of women and girls everywhere,” she remarked.
In her statement, Ms Dubravka has called on all States and relevant stakeholders worldwide to take urgent steps to prevent the pandemic of femicide or gender related killings of women, and gender-based violence against women, through the establishment of national multidisciplinary prevention bodies or Femicide watches/observatories on violence against women.
“These bodies should be mandated to 1) collect comparable and disaggregated data on femicide or gender-related killings of women; 2) conduct an analysis of femicide cases to determine shortcomings, and recommend measures for the prevention of such cases; and 3) ensure that femicide victims are not forgotten by holding days of remembrance,” she elaborated.
According to Ms Dubravka, data this mandate has collected since 2015 through her Femicide Watch initiative corroborates the data available from the United Nations (UN) Office on Drugs and Crime, and indicates that among the victims of all intentional killings involving intimate partners, more than 80 per cent of victims are women.
“Many of these femicides are preventable,” she stressed.
Ms Dubravka went on to say that since 2015, a growing number of States have either established femicide watches or observatories, and in an increasing number of countries, it is the independent human rights institutions, civil society organizations, women’s groups and/or academic institutions that have established femicide watches or observatories.
“The outcome document of the Beijing+25 regional review meeting organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe in October 2019 also supports this femicide watch initiative. Its recommendation 31(j) calls on all countries to establish multidisciplinary national bodies such as Femicide Watch with the aim of actively working on prevention of femicide or gender-based killings of women,” she added.
Ms Dubravka then cited the UN Secretary-General’s statement to the High-Level Meeting on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women on 1 October 2020, which called for affirmative action to prevent violence against women, including femicide.
She concluded her statement saying, “On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, I, and the undersigned UN and regional human rights expert mechanisms, call on all States and other relevant stakeholders to establish a femicide watch and/or observatory on violence against women with a mandate to recommend measures for the prevention of femicides and gender-based violence against women and to collect comparable and disaggregated data under categories of intimate partner and family related femicides (based on the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator) and other femicides by unrelated perpetrators.
“Data should also be disaggregated based on age, disability, gender identity, migrant status, internal displacement, racial or ethnic origin and belonging to indigenous communities or to a religious or linguistic minority.”