‘Killing women is a public health emergency’: UN Women

Mario Villar |

United Nations (EFE) – Femicides are a public health emergency and should be treated as such if this global problem is finally resolved, UN Women Deputy Executive Director Anita Bhatia said in an interview with EFE.

“There is so much domestic violence and so much violence against women that the world has somehow normalized it and is not reacting with the horror it deserves,” explains Bhatia, who feels it necessary to find “creative” ways to draw attention to this drama. .

“If something is killing you, it’s a health emergency,” he insists, asking that resources can also be made available in terms of health care to combat sexist violence.

According to data provided by UN WomenOf the estimated 81,000 women and girls killed worldwide in 2021, 56% died at the hands of their partners or other family members.

“If you stop for a minute to think about it, it’s a shocking number,” says Bhatia, highlighting the fact that a large number of women “can’t trust the people they live with every day.”

Lack of political leadership

The head of UN Women also draws attention to the little progress that has been made over the past decade, as the number of murders of this type today is very similar to what it was ten years ago.

The reason, in his opinion, is that the problem was not considered as a priority in terms of funding and public attention.

A view of a demonstration against gender-based violence in a file photo.  EFE/Rodrigo SuraA view of a demonstration against gender-based violence in a file photo.  EFE/Rodrigo Sura
A view of a demonstration against gender-based violence in a file photo. EFE/Rodrigo Sura

“We need more political leaders who say, ‘Violence against women is an absolute violation of human rights, it is immoral, and therefore we must make sure that it does not happen,'” explains Bhatia, who also believes it is important for governments to explain that the elimination of this problem is necessary in order to become a more developed and prosperous country.

For UN Women, when it comes to tackling violence against women, the key is to do much more in education from a very early age and “change mindsets and cultural attitudes” because “in some parts of the world it is culturally acceptable . “

In addition, Bhatia believes that it is necessary to counter the backlash that is observed against feminism and the promotion of women’s rights, a phenomenon associated with the rise to power of authoritarian leaders.

Effective measures for women

In terms of legal action, the head of UN Women believes the first step is to repeal all laws that discriminate against women, or give them fewer rights to create a legal framework with gender equality, and then focus on implementation.

“You can have the best laws, but if they are not enforced, they are useless, so you have to focus on accountability and implementation,” he says.

In this sense, he defends the creation of special gender-based violence courts as one of the tools that has proven effective in speeding up processes and bringing perpetrators to justice without long delays.

“I think it’s very important that countries look at special mechanisms, special courts, special prosecutors and give a very important signal that there is zero tolerance for femicide and violence against women. But, unfortunately, this is not happening in many parts of the world,” he says.

By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at