Data suggest scale of Latvia's female homicide problem

Take note – story published 1 year and 1 month ago

An appalling recent murder in Jēkabpils has brought the issues of stalking and the homicides of women into sharp focus in Latvia. Figures published by Eurostat May 11 underline the scale of Latvia's problem.

There were 3 690 police-recorded intentional homicides in 2021 in the EU, with a 4.3 % decrease compared to the previous year. The decrease was observed in 16 EU countries out of 27 that provided data.

Intentional homicides in EU, 2021
Intentional homicides in EU, 2021

In Latvia the figures are much, much higher. In 2021 there were 98 homicides recorded, which is equivalent to 5.18 intentional homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. That is by far the highest rate in the EU. Lithuania is in second place with a rate of 2.50 intentional homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

But it is when women victims of intentional homicide killed by family members or intimate partners are examined that the figures become even more striking.

The rate of women killed by family members or intimate partners in relation to the population size decreased in 2021 compared to previous year across the EU.

Looking at the figures per million of women, the rate decreased from 4.2 to 3.9 and returned to the 2019 level. At the same time, men killed by family members or intimate partners decreased to 1.8 per million men compared to 2.2 in the previous year.

Latvia is among the countries providing data, and again, its equivalent rates are much higher. Looking at the figures per million of men, the rate of intentional homicides killed by family members or intimate partners decreased from 12.5 per million in 2020 to 10.3 in 2021.

For women the rate decreased from 21.4 in 2020 to 18.7 in 2021. Only tiny Liechtenstein recorded a worse rate, because of the homicide of a single woman (the only homicide of any sort recorded that year).

According to the figures, in total there were 19 intentional homicides of women in Latvia in 2021 killed by family members or intimate partners (16 killed by 'family members' and three killed by 'intimate partners') – the same number as in Hungary, which has a population around five times larger than Latvia's.

The figure was at least lower than 2020's figure of 22 homicides of women in Latvia.

In addition there were 9 intentional homicides of men by family members or intimate partners, giving a total of 28 homicides by family members or intimate partners – just one fewer than Austria which again has a population more than four times larger than Latvia's.

The statistics presented by Eurostat are based on official figures for police-recorded offences (criminal acts) in Europe, and it does point out that "The number of police-recorded crimes varies widely across the EU, even relative to population size, due to different laws, recording practices and reporting to the police, that affect comparison."

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