Statement from Ruxana Jina, Director of the Data Impact Program, Vital Strategies, on the recently released report, “Analysis of deaths due to gender-based violence: An autopsy-based cross-sectional study from Mumbai.”
March 17, 2023 (New York, NY)—“Globally, one in three women will experience gender-based violence. Sadly, femicide—gender-based violence that ends in the death of women or girls—and other forms of gender-based violence are underreported and poorly recorded, meaning this crisis of violence is too easily swept under the rug.
In 2021, Mumbai recorded a shocking 21% spike in recorded cases of violence against women. A new report Analysis of deaths due to Gender-based violence: An autopsy-based cross-sectional study from Mumbai cast further light on the severity of femicide in Mumbai, showing that 12.3% of female deaths analyzed at an autopsy center had a history indicative of gender-based violence. This report, produced by Seth G.S. Medical College and King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital with technical support from Vital Strategies, brings new urgency to the issue of gender-based violence in India. It is one step toward addressing gaps in the data, identifying the scale of femicide, and holding the perpetrators responsible.
Data like those shared in our report should be a wake-up call to policymakers to take action, and for governments seeking to use the latest data tools to uncover the extent of this problem. Knowing who these women were and how they were killed is invaluable for government agencies in India, including the departments of health, police, and women and child development, as they coordinate response measures to prevent these avoidable and tragic deaths.
This report summarizes findings from an analysis of autopsies done at KEM Hospital in Mumbai over the past five years to understand the proportion and pattern of deaths due to gender-based violence among women and girls of all ages. From the 1,460 cases that were analyzed, the study found that one in eight women who died had a history of gender-based violence, and 99% of those incidents occurred at home or in private spaces. The cause of death for most victims was suicide or accidents, followed by homicide. Two-thirds of these women were married, and the majority of the deaths were connected to violence by husbands or intimate partners.
The recommendations presented in the report based on these findings can help guide and inform actions at the institutional and policy level. We hope that it will help catalyze further action toward reducing and eliminating gender-based violence and femicide in India and beyond.
The hard truth is that unless we commit to urgent action and collecting the data that brings femicide into focus, this deadly trend will remain an invisible crisis on a national and global scale.”
About the Data for Health Initiative
The Data for Health Initiative is a global effort supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It provides technical assistance and grants to governments in countries worldwide to improve public health data systems including civil registration and vital statistics systems; cancer registries; and data-driven policymaking and decision-making processes. Vital Strategies serves as an implementing partner.
About Vital Strategies
Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by equitable and effective public health systems. We partner with governments, communities and organizations to reimagine public health, and the result is millions of people living longer, healthier lives. Our goal is to build a future where better health is supported across all facets of our lives, in our families, communities, in our environment and our governments.
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