Gender-based violence is a global crisis with femicide or death being the most brutal culmination of the act. Femicide is a harrowing reminder of the persistent and deep-rooted inequalities and prevalent social misogyny. As per UNODC and UN WOMEN report on ‘Gender-related killings of women and girls 2022’, globally one woman or girl is being killed every 11 minutes in their home. Behind the grim statistics lie countless stories of shattered lives and shattered communities. Sadly, most of these go unreported.

Shedding further light on the severity of femicide, the report “Analysis of deaths due to gender-based violence: An autopsy-based study from Mumbai” is a clarion call for action at every level. The study, led by the department of forensics medicine at the Seth G.S Medical College and King Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, India, with technical support from the Data Impact Program at Vital Strategies, draws upon an analysis of autopsies conducted at the hospital over five years to bare the shocking proportion and patterns of deaths resulting from gender-based violence.

The report, unveiled by Mr M.P Lodha, Minister of Women and Child Development, Maharashtra along with Ms. Shradha Joshi, Member Secretary, Maharashtra State Women’s Commission during a high-profile dissemination meeting on 13th March 2023, revealed that one in eight women who died bore the imprints of gender-based violence. Disturbingly, the majority of the women were married, and an overwhelming 99% occurred within the supposed safety of their homes. Unraveling an appalling pattern, husbands or partners were responsible for majority of these deaths.

The implications of this study are grave, emphasizing the dire need for data to bring this issue out of the shadows and for collective action to coordinate measures to prevent these avoidable deaths. The recommendations presented in the report serve as a guide for actionable steps both at the institutional and policy level. Recognizing the urgency of this pervasive issue, the Minister has committed to establish an inter-departmental multi-disciplinary committee comprising representatives from health, police, and women and child development commission aimed at forging a comprehensive action plan that dismantles the roots of gender-based violence and femicide.

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