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Asia records lowest homicide rate in the world: UN report

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United Nations, Jul 8:  Asia, which contains 60 per cent of the global population, recorded the lowest rate of homicide in 2017 with only 2.3 killings per 100,000 people while the Americas region had the highest homicide rate, according to a UN report.

The Global Study on Homicide 2019 published Monday by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said that about 464,000 people across the world were killed in homicides in 2017, an increase from 395,542 in 1992. The number of people killed in homicides in 2017 far surpassed the 89,000 killed in armed conflicts in the same period.

However, because the global population has risen faster than the increase in recorded homicide victims, the overall risk of being killed in homicides has declined steadily. The global homicide rate, measured as the victims of homicide per 100,000 people, declined from 7.2 in 1992, to 6.1 in 2017, the report said.

The lowest regional rate of homicide in 2017 was reported in Asia, with 104,000 victims representing a rate of 2.3 per 100,000 population. Asia, which contains 60 per cent of the global population, accounted for 23 per cent of total homicide victims worldwide.

The 2017 global homicide rate masks dramatic regional variations.

Countries in the Americas reported 173,000 victims of intentional homicide – 37 per cent of the global total in a region that accounts for only 13 per cent of the world’s population.

The homicide rate of 17.2 victims per 100,000 population in the Americas was the highest recorded in the region since reliable records began in 1990. Africa was the only other region with a homicide rate exceeding the global average, with 13.0 victims per 100,000 population, or 163,000 victims in total.

The report said that though homicide rates remain high in the Americas, the picture varies hugely within the region and within individual countries. In Central America, the country with the highest homicide rate (62.1) had a rate more than seven times that of the country with the lowest. In South America, the country with the highest homicide rate (56.8) had a rate more than 16 times that of the country with the lowest.

“The Global Study on Homicide seeks to shed light on gender-related killings, lethal gang violence and other challenges, to support prevention and interventions to bring down homicide rates,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov.

“Countries have committed to targets under the Sustainable Development Goals to reduce all forms of violence and related death rates by 2030. This report offers important examples of effective community-based interventions that have helped to bring about improvements in areas afflicted by violence, gangs and organized crime.”

Most homicide victims are men, but women more often killed by family and intimate partners.

Some 87,000 women and girls were intentionally killed in 2017, a decrease from 2012. The share of women killed by intimate partners or other family members, however, rose from 47 per cent of all female homicide victims in 2012 to 58 per cent in 2017, and the overall number who lost their lives to this type of homicide rose from 48,000 victims in 2012 to 50,000 in 2017.

“The home remains the most dangerous place for women, who continue to bear the heaviest burden of lethal victimization as a result of inequality and gender stereotypes,” the report said.

It said that Asia accounted for the largest number of all women killed worldwide by intimate partners or other family members in 2017, with an estimated 20,000 victims. However, an estimated 19,000 women in Africa also lost their lives in this way. Africa has a much smaller population, meaning that women in Africa run a greater risk of being killed by an intimate partner or other family member than women in Asia, it said.

Globally, about 81 per cent of homicide victims recorded in 2017 were men and boys, and more than 90 per cent of suspects in homicide cases were men. However, the study shows that the gender disparity among victims changes with age. Girls and boys aged nine and under are killed at roughly equal rates, in marked contrast to all other age groups, in which males make up more than 50 per cent of the victims, according to data from 41 countries.

Organised crime alone was responsible for up to 19 per cent of all homicides in 2017. Since the start of the 21st century, organized crime killed about as many people as all armed conflicts across the world combined.

Elsewhere in the world, firearm killings are less common than in the Americas – measured both on a per capita basis and as a proportion of all homicides. Still, in Asia firearm-related deaths constitute the largest share of homicide cases, although on a smaller scale overall, it said.

The report stressed that targeted and efficient interventions to counter homicide require a comprehensive understanding of its scale and drivers. The drivers of homicide highlighted in the study include inequality, unemployment, political instability, the prevalence of gender stereotypes in society, and the presence of organized crime.

The study also points to the importance of a governance model centred on the rule of law, control of corruption, and investment in socioeconomic development, including in education, as critical in bringing down the rate of violent crime. Firearms and drugs and alcohol are further facilitators of homicide that need to be addressed, according to the study.

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