Preventing Feminicides Requires Comprehensive, Sustained Efforts from States and Societies, IACHR Says

November 25, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) stresses that the violent deaths of women because of their gender, known as femicides or feminicides, can and should be prevented through the joint efforts of all sectors in society. The IACHR calls on States and societies in the Americas to commit to taking effective and timely prevention, protection, and eradication measures to end the web of violence that precedes feminicides/femicides.

The home remains the most dangerous place for women and girls. Of all the intentional homicides of women perpetrated in the world in 2021, 56% were committed by the victim's partner, former partner, or other family member. In the Americas, the rate of female intimate partner/family-related homicide per 100,000 stands at 1.4, the second highest in the world. In 2021, an estimated 7,500 women and girls died in this context. In 2022, the figures are believed to have remained approximately the same, as they have done over the past decade, according to data issued by UNODC and UN Women. Given the failure to collect contextual data that might enable the appropriate identification of many homicides as femicides/feminicides, the real figures may be higher.

In this context, efforts to prevent feminicide must address the various types of violence faced by women and girls within their families and their intimate relationships, especially domestic, sexual, and vicarious violence (the latter understood as a form of gender-based violence where children are instrumentalized to cause harm to their mothers or carers). Having adequate legal and institutional frameworks in place is crucial to enable timely and effective action following complaints of violence. This requires ensuring that risk assessments are conducted with a gender perspective, that protection measures are implemented and monitored, and that victims have access to comprehensive assistance services.

Gender-based violence against women is persistent. It happens throughout women's life cycle and affects all areas of their lives. It takes various forms, is reinforced in some contexts, and even changes in line with the available technology. Gender-based murders of women do not happen in isolation. They are the result of a continuum of multiple and interconnected forms of violence that rest on sociocultural structures and patterns of discrimination that are tightly woven into the social fabric. Transforming the culture of violence against women requires the sustained commitment of all sectors in society.

In the long run, strategies to prevent feminicide must prioritize changing the structures and patterns of sociocultural discrimination that underly gender-based violence. Reproducing gender stereotypes, subtle signs of male chauvinism, and other discriminatory conduct consolidates the culture of violence against women and leads to a naturalization of this violence, increasing social tolerance of it. States must take transformative measures to change the structural causes of gender-based violence against women, including machismo and social tolerance, with a view to decisively overcoming the continuum of violence faced by women.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 274/23

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