As on every 8th March, which was established as International Women’s Day by the United Nations in 1977, ECPM would like to recall that at least 500 women are currently on death row around the world. It is estimated that at least 100 women have been executed in the last 10 years, and although exact figures are impossible to obtain, there are potentially hundreds more.
According to known figures for the year 2020, at least 20 women were executed in four countries (according to Capital Punishment U.K.): 9 in Iran, 8 in Egypt, 2 in Saudi Arabia and 1 in Yemen. While China does not reveal its exact figures, it is assumed that it is the country that executes the most women.
In 2021, at least 8 women were executed worldwide: 2 in January (USA and Saudi Arabia), 6 in February (Iran, Sudan, Egypt).
While all death row inmates, male or female, face the torture of prolonged sentences and solitary confinement on death row, women suffer particularly badly: facing loneliness, sexual violence, and more, after lives already marked by trauma. In the USA only, 51 women are awaiting execution on death row. In January 2021, the US executed the only woman on federal death row, Lisa Montgomery, despite several international appeals for clemency because of her psychotic condition.
Illustration: Jeanne Hirschberger for the fact-finding mission Vivants sans l’être
The issue of women facing the death penalty remains little discussed. However, it is a very real issue that deserves to be studied and that says a lot about the death penalty system and the conditions of detention in a given country.
The 7th World Congress against the Death Penalty held in Brussels in 2019 put the conditions of women on death row at the heart of the debate. Several important issues were addressed, from gender-based violence against women to the lack of data on the subject.
In order to continue this work, the 19th World Day against the Death Penalty on 10 October 2021 will also be dedicated to the issue of women.