Sunday, March 8, 2020

Male violence against women kills more than COVID-19

Eco-feminism & Public Health

A Pandemic Taboo

Photo by Camila Quintero Franco on Unsplash

March 2020, I turned the radio on and the first news on it was the number of new cases declared related to the pandemic COVID-19 and the number of deaths related to it. In the last week, schools and local businesses around Italy have been closed, cultural events canceled (1,2) and even the interaction between meetings and neighbors got more distant to try to better deal with this COVID-19 virus.

I mean, all preventable death should be prevented, taken care of, no doubt of that. But why some deaths seem to be more important than others by the media?

Today, March 8th, in English called International Women’s Day, that I preferer to call as the french version I learned in Geneva, with the local feminist movement, that makes clear what this day is actually about. Here, March 8th is la Journée Internationale de lutte féministe et pour le droit des femmes, personnes trans et non-binaire. That means International Day of the Feminist Struggle and for the Women, Trans and Non-Binary People Rights.

According to UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), a total of 87,000 women were intentionally killed in 2017. More than half of them (58 percent)-50,000 -were killed by intimate partners or family members. This means that 137 women across the world are killed by a member of their own family every day. This amounts to some six women being killed every hour by people they know(3). That means 7250 women were intentionally killed by month, and 1 woman every 10 minutes was killed in 2017 by someone close to her. Isn’t this alarming?

Especially when comparing data from 2012, to see that the annual number of female deaths worldwide resulting from intimate partner/family-related homicide, therefore, seems to be on the increase(3).

Besides thinking that these number are often underestimated, since collecting correct data on femicide is challenging, largely because in most countries, police and medical data-collection systems that document cases of homicide often do not have the necessary information or do not report the victim-perpetrator relationship or the motives for the homicide, let alone gender-related motivations for murder (4).

And here I am focusing on the absolute number of deaths, if you think these numbers are already too high, imagine the numbers of women and girls suffering violence because of their gender.

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma, and shame surrounding it(5). For women in many parts of the world, violence is a leading cause of injury and disability, as well as a risk factor for other physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems. Violence has long-term consequences for these women and their children, as well as social and economic costs for all society (6). Intimate partner violence has long-term negative health consequences for survivors, even after the abuse has ended (7).

So, it is important to think that in reality the number of women, girls affected by violence related to gender issues are much higher than 87'000 deaths mentioned by the UNODC report of 2019.

This is a heavy, challenging and so important subject to be discussed that I wished government, schools, business, and people could find practical measures to deal with it, as quick as apparently people are trying to postpone the propagation of COVID-19. Wouldn’t that be great?

So, let’s compared the data of COVID-19 registered deaths since December 31, 2019, from the WHO (World Health Organization) report-47 (8), and confront it with what we got from 2017 data about women who were intentionally killed in 2017.


  • In China, 3 073 deaths, from the 80 813 confirmed cases.
  • Outside of China, 491 (413+78) deaths, from the 24 743 (21 110+3633 new) confirmed cases.
  • In total (in and outside China) = 3 564 deaths since December 31, 2019, that means 97 days until now. Giving an average of 37 deaths per day.

Male Violence Against Women:

  • 87 000 women were intentionally killed in 2017 around the world.
  • Giving an average of 238 deaths per day in that year, and as they mentioned in the UNODC document, these numbers are underestimated and since 2012, they have been rising(3).
37 deaths per day vs. 238 deaths per day!
Image from: UNODC, Global Study on Homicide 2019 (Vienna, July 2019). Booklet 5

Some people may think, but COVID-19 is a pandemic outbreak!

Let me tell you, Male Violence Against is too. Let’s go back to the dictionary. Pandemic is defined as an epidemic occurring over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries, and usually affecting a large number of people(9).

Male Violence Against Women checks all these boxes, since it happens as an epidemic for over a very wide area (worldwide), crossing international boundaries and affecting a huge number of people directly and indirectly.

This is why my question at the begging of the text: why some deaths seem to be more important than others by the media? What is the symptom of a bigger problem?

Remember to keep things in perspective, check the sources of information, check numbers, avoid collective desperation, and keep looking for coherent ways of dealy with your life, support and take care of your community, especially women, cis and trans, and non-binary people.

Wash your hands, and keep aware of Patriarchy.

Some ideas of how to deal with Patriarchy, go here.


  1. Dipartimento della Protezione Civille-Ministero della Salute (2020, March 7). Coronavirus: la situazione atualle.
  2. Associated Press (2020, February 23).Coronavirus: northern Italian towns close schools and businesses.
  3. UNODC, Global Study on Homicide 2019 (Vienna, July 2019). Booklet 5
  4. WHO (2012). Understanding and addressing violence against women . PDF here.
  5. WHO (2018, November 25). International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
  6. WHO (2012) Understanding and addressing violence against women.
  7. Campbell JC. Health consequences of intimate partner violence. Lancet, 2002, 359(9314):1331–36. (PDF here)
  8. WHO(2020, March 7)Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report — 47.
  9. Porta M, editor. A dictionary of epidemiology, 6th edition. New York: Oxford University Press; 2014.

Male violence against women kills more than COVID-19 was originally published in PermacultureWomen on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Via Permaculture Women's Guild - Free Permaculture blog

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