By: Lynnette McIntire
December 5, 2022
Femicide. A word that conjures fragmented images of girl baby drownings, honor
killings, stoned women labeled as adulterers or infidels.
Why do we steer away from the term “femicide”? Is it because it seems like the word is removed from our own lives?
Here’s the definition: Femicide is the killing of women and girls on the basis of their gender. Like all forms of gender-based violence, femicide is rooted in inequality between women and men, the abuse of power, and a disregard for human rights.
In reality, the term encompasses something ubiquitous: “Globally 81,000 women and girls
were killed in 2020, around 47,000 of them (58 per cent) died at the hands of an intimate
partner or a family member,” according to a 2021 report from the United Nations Office on
Drugs and Crime (UNODC). For those murdered by intimate partners, 82% were female and 18% were male.
And it’s a human rights problem. Feminist activists in many countries around the world, including France, South Africa, Mexico and Turkey, have brought attention to femicide and other forms for gender based violence with national-level campaigns to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls.
Femicide is a crime of the domestic sphere, typically with an escalating pattern of violence and abuse. Research shows that power and control are almost always the impetus for violence. The struggle is entangled with the roles of women in society: cultural norms, expectations, stereotypes, misogyny, economic disparities, vulnerabilities.
For many women, the violence is the culmination of years of threats, bullying, beatings, sexual abuse, violence. Or a workplace snub provoked a man to rage. Or a misinterpreted word or action festered. Or a man decided that a woman wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, empathetic enough, listening enough, loving enough, respectful enough….
The end game is too often death.
Let’s not turn away. Let’s call it what it is: Femicide.
Lynnette McIntire, CEO of Silver Birch Communications, advises companies on their environmental, social and governance practices. She also is a member of GRW’s Communications Committee.
Global Rights for Women is a leading voice in the global movement to end violence against women and girls. GRW builds international partnerships that advance laws, values, and practices to create communities where all women and girls live free from violence and threats of violence. In times of greater resistance to human rights from regressive forces, GRW makes an uncompromising commitment to the universal acceptance of women and girls’ human right to be free from violence.