Does Northern Ireland have the highest femicide rate in Western Europe?

CLAIM: Northern Ireland has the highest rate of femicide in Western Europe.

CONCLUSION: INACCURATE WITH CONSIDERATION. Northern Ireland has the second highest rate (0.53) of female intentional homicide victims by intimate partner, per 100,000 inhabitants, in Western Europe, as defined by WEOG (given the lack of definition of “Western Europe”) and the regions covered by the data published by Eurostat.

On 20 November 2019, Sorcha Eastwood, Alliance Party Westminster candidate for Lagan Valley, stated: “Northern Ireland has the highest rate of femicide in Western Europe per 100,000 in the population.”

What is femicide?

EU guidelines around the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (ICCS) suggest in Section 2.1 of ICCS Code 0101 that femicide covers intentional homicides in which the sex of the victim is identified as female.

Eurostat defines intentional homicide as killing a human being willfully and illegally; the intent was to cause death or serious injury, but not necessarily that it was planned beforehand. Intentional homicide statistics include murder, deadly assault, assassination, terrorism, femicide, infanticide, voluntary manslaughter, extrajudicial killings, illegal killing by police or military. They exclude attempted homicide, justifiable self-defence, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and abortion.

How many total homicides in the EU?

Looking first at all homicides, the latest data from Eurostat shows that there were around 5,200 police-recorded intentional homicides (male and female victims) in the EU (excludes data for the Netherlands) in 2017, a reduction of 19% since 2008. The data is listed by country, with UK figures split into England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland due to the devolved jurisdictions. The number of police recorded offences for Northern Ireland in 2017 was 24. Figures for Scotland totalled 59; England and Wales 726.
What is the homicide rate in the EU?

The highest rate of intentional homicide relative to the population size (police-recorded offences per 100,000 inhabitants) in 2017 was observed in Latvia (5.6), Lithuania (4.0), Estonia (2.2) and Malta (2.0), and the lowest in Luxembourg (0.3), Czechia, Italy and Austria (all 0.6). The number of police recorded offences per 100,000 inhabitants in Northern Ireland was 1.3; England and Wales 1.2, Scotland 1.1.

Which countries are considered Western Europe?

There is no official or settled definition of which countries comprise Western Europe.

The Western European and Others Group (WEOG) is one of several unofficial Regional Groups in the United Nations that act as voting blocs and negotiation forums. Formed in 1961, the 24 permanent European members of the group are: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom. (The ‘Others’ are Australia, Canada, Israel and New Zealand, countries with strong cultural and historical links, but not geographical neighbours, with Europe.)

What is the intentional homicide rate in Western Europe?

For those Western European countries that the latest (2017) Eurostat data on intentional homicide covers, the highest number of police-recorded offences per 100,000 inhabitants were in Belgium (1.7), France (1.5), and Northern Ireland (1.3).

What is the intentional femicide rate in Western Europe?

Eurostat publishes the rate of female intentional homicide victims by intimate partner (click on the link and navigate to View Table; select Individual Type, Sex, Female). Eurostat does not provide any data for Northern Ireland regarding female intentional homicide victims by family and relatives. In Northern Ireland, the rate of femicide using this definition was 0.53 in 2017, which is highest in the rest of the UK: England and Wales (0.24) and Scotland (0.25).

The figures for all countries and regions covered by the publication are shown in the following graphic:

Source: Eurostat; black-coloured bars: WEOG “Western European” countries.

The femicide rate was highest in Finland (0.61). Northern Ireland had the second highest femicide rate in Western Europe, as defined by WEOG and the regions covered by the 2017 data published by Eurostat.

Image: Photo by Rinofelino used by license Dreamstime.com


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