Femicide is the systematic killing of women and girls because of their gender. The word “femicide” was first coined in the 1970s by Diana Russell, and is defined as “the killing of women because they are women.” This definition includes all forms of gender-based violence against women, including domestic violence, honor killings, acid attacks, and forced marriage. It is the most extreme manifestation of gender-based violence against women and a global pandemic. Femicide affects women of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds but is more prevalent in societies with higher gender inequality. In many cases, femicide is an extension of other forms of violence against women, such as domestic violence, sexual violence, and trafficking.
In 2013, United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution urging its member states to take appropriate actions to tackle the global prevalence of gender-related killing of women and girls. In 2015, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls called for a “femicide watch” and/or observatories on gender-related killings of women. Since 2015, a growing number of member States have supported this initiative by establishing femicide watches, collecting data, or by undertaking research on femicide and other measures for its prevention.
According to research published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), around 87,000 women were killed around the world in 2017. Fifty-eight percent of them were killed by intimate partners or family members. This means six women are killed every hour by people they know! It is unfortunate that the combined efforts of civil society and governments have not yet been able to tackle gender-based violence and femicide. In every country in the world, women and girls are subjected to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Every year, thousands of women and girls are killed simply because of their gender. In fact, femicide is the leading cause of death for women aged 15 to 44 worldwide.
The Global 16 Days Campaign to End Femicide
The Global 16 Days Campaign, launched by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) in 1991, has been used worldwide to call for the elimination of gender-based violence (GBV). It is run annually from November 25 (International Day Against Violence Against Women) to December 10 (International Human Rights Day).In 2022, the Campaign is continuing its multi-year theme of Ending Femicide.
Major Drivers of Femicide:
Many factors contribute to the high rates of femicides, including systemic gender inequality, cultural influence, poverty, and lack of education. In this post, I have explored a few issues which, according to me, are major drivers of femicide and systemic violence against women and girls. Many a time, these issues are interconnected and the presence of multiple contributing factors makes a woman more vulnerable to gender-based violence.
Women’s Social And Economic Vulnerability
Femicide is a global problem, and it is driven by many factors. One of the main drivers is the social and economic vulnerability of women. Women who are poor, marginalized, and have little social and economic power are at a much higher risk of experiencing gender-based violence and being murdered. It is also often linked to cultural and gender norms that devalue women and girls and prohibit them from living safe and autonomous lives.
Around the world, women are subject to various forms of violence and discrimination. In many societies, women are seen as second-class citizens, which often leads to them being treated as property rather than human beings. Compared to men, women are more likely to live in poverty and lack access to education, employment, and economic resources. This makes them more likely to be in situations of domestic violence and to have fewer options for escape.
Systemic Gender Inequality and Gender Power Imbalance
Cultural norms and beliefs play a role in how societies view and treat women. In some cultures, women are seen as inferior to men and are not given the same rights and protections. This can lead to dangerous situations for women, as they are more likely to be the victims of violence and abuse.
The root cause of systemic violence against women is the power imbalance between men and women. This imbalance is perpetuated by gender norms and stereotypes that exist in every society. It is this imbalance that needs to be addressed in order to prevent violence against women. When women are not valued as equal to men, and when men are seen as the natural leaders, decision-makers, and protectors of women. It creates an environment of inequality and oppression in which male violence against women is seen as acceptable and normalized.
Celebration of male superiority and toxic masculinity
The celebration of male superiority and toxic masculinity is another cause of gender-based violence. It perpetuates the idea that men are better than women, and that women are to be subservient to men. This leads men to feel that they are entitled to have power and control over women. It enables men to justify using violence against women or being entitled to control and abuse women.
This problem is exacerbated by the fact that many men are raised to believe that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict. This belief is harmful not only to women but to men as well. Men who internalize this belief are more likely to resort to violence in their own lives, inflicting harm on both themselves and those around them.
From an early age, boys are made to believe that they are innately superior to girls and women. They are taught that they are stronger, smarter, and more capable than their female counterparts. Cultures which celebrate male superiority and toxic masculinity are more likely to experience gender-based violence. This is because these belief systems breed an environment of entitlement and disrespect towards women, which in turn can lead to violence.
Men who buy into this idea of male superiority are more likely to commit acts of violence against women.
One of the key drivers of gender-based violence is misogyny – the hate of, contempt for, or prejudice against women and girls. It manifests in both individual attitudes and institutional policies and practices that discriminate against women and girls. From everyday microaggressions, street harassment, and sexual assault, to more extreme forms of violence like Femicide, misogyny is a major factor in the perpetuation of violence against women.
While misogyny is often thought of as simply a hatred of women, it is actually much more complicated than that. Misogyny is a system of beliefs and behaviors that work to uphold male supremacy and maintain female subordination. It is entrenched in our culture and institutions, and it plays a major role in shaping the way we think about gender.
Unfortunately, misogyny is often perpetuated without consequence. Women who speak out against it are often met with skepticism, disbelief, and even hostility. This resistance to change only serves to further entrench misogyny in our society. It is impossible to address violence against women and girls without having a proper mechanism for tackling the existing misogyny in our society.
Sense of Impunity
Domestic violence and intimate partner violence most often go unreported for cultural, economic, and personal reasons. The criminal justice system in many countries doesn’t prosecute the perpetrators of domestic violence. The problem of femicide is compounded by the fact that it is often seen as a private issue, rather than a public one. This is due to the fact that femicide is often portrayed as an act of passion, rather than a premeditated act of violence. This means that femicide is often seen as justified, or even excusable. It is also considered a private or family matter. As a result, perpetrators of intimate partner or domestic violence often develop a sense of impunity. Femicide victims usually have a long history of abuse by their perpetrators.
Impact of Femicides
Gender-based violence is a major human rights violation and a serious public health epidemic. This abuse is often perpetrated by those who are supposed to love and protect them – husbands, boyfriends, fathers, and brothers. Femicide doesn’t just impact the women and girls who are killed – it also has a profound impact on families and communities. It is also a driver of poverty and instability. Loved ones of the victims grapple with the pain and trauma of losing a loved one in a violent and senseless act. In addition, women and girls can not enjoy their life to the fullest of their potential. Aside from the immediate impacts, femicide also has long-term effects on society as a whole. In 2016, the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women stated the cost of violence against women is estimated at 2 % of the global GDP. This is equivalent to USD 1.5 trillion, approximately, the size of the economy of Canada. Despite the far-reaching devastating impact of Femicide, it is unfortunate that governments in many countries have simply not done enough to end femicide or prioritize it as a policy issue.
Femicide Advocacy Guide: The guide examines different forms of femicides. It will enable you to increase awareness about femicide in your own community and/or national context and lend your voice to a global call to action to end femicide.