Weekly report of a young feminist #13: The word femicide is used for gender-based murder, which means that a woman or girl dies because of her sex. It affects so many lives across the globe, but yet attracts so little attention.

Some magazines or books lie on my shelf for a longer period than they deserve, and it sometimes leads to delayed discoveries. Same happed to Chime magazine, a supplementary publication of Gucci’s initiative which strives to ensure equality for each gender or sexuality from a diverse spectrum. Colourful and playful material targets the youngsters and people from minorities with the intention to diminish their inner misery, and encourage them to feel as a part of community. One of the inspirational texts published in the magazine, which subsequently brought me to one discovery, was discussing misogyny and femicide. This term was only slightly familiar to me and therefore caught my attention straightaway. For the best interpretation, I dare to copy it all here (since the version is short) and add my thoughts and more data afterwards. Text is written by Brazilian artist Panmela Castro.

“They decided to kill us, but we decided not to die” – Conceição Evaristo

“Misogyny is the hatred of women. It is the fear of who women may become by gaining the same rights and power as men. This hatred, this fear, this misogyny leads to Femicide. Femicide is a specific type of gender-based hate crime. Femicide is the intentional killing of a woman or girl because they are female. In 2016 in Brazil a woman was murdered every two hours. This is a total of 4657 deaths, and it is likely there are more that were not accounted for. The risk of a black woman being murdered is more than twice as high as the risk of a white woman. Men are killing us because they cannot live with the idea that we can be anything we want. We are no longer bound to the standards of what it means to be a woman. Perhaps the word “woman” does not even fit what we want to be, who we can be. For this piece I walked through the streets, marking the streets with a long trail of blood red as I went. I am metaphorically mapping the death of these women who have done nothing but be a woman. I walk for all women, whether they have vaginas or not.”

Femicide is defined by European Union as a murder of women and girls because of their gender usually committed by partners, ex-partners or someone close to the victim. Femicide is a massive problem globally. However, it’s most alarming in Latin America. Statistics show that gender-based crimes are increasing, especially in Brazil and Mexico. In 2019, Mexico recorded more than one thousand victims of femicide, and the government still intentionally overlooks it despite the fact, that word femicide was invented to describe the horrible crimes occurring in their country. Therefore, Mexican women decided to join a national protest this year, during which they refused to go to work and avoided the streets completely. They aimed to use this strike as a reminder of how the world, or at least Mexico, would look like without any women. Chile and Argentina also have to face the spread of this vicious phenomenon. In Chile, 42 cases of sexual violence are reported daily and according to local NGO in Argentina, one woman is killed on average every 32 hours. Very enlightening article, published in The Conversation, focuses on brutal conditions for women in the whole Latin America and it states that “Latin America is the worst place in the world to be a woman”.

Apart from Latin America, femicide represents a significant problem also in Europe. Among all, France and Spain seem to be leading the chart. In 2019, 100th victim of femicide in France led the French president Emmanuel Macron to adopt serious legal actions since the France has the highest rate of women killed by their partner in the whole wester Europe. Spain announced in 2019 that the number of femicides in the country already doubled compared to 2018. The worst aspect of crime committed by partner of the victim is that society still blames the victims. People say it’s the woman’s fault she didn’t walk away from a relationship, but on the other hand, they blame her if she did, because there is a public belief that separation of partners has an impact on children. However, this argument is far from truth since the scientists already stated that children are harmed more when they’re forced to be witnesses of domestic abuse.

What we can do to make it better? As a society and as individuals? First of all, femicide has to be recognized and defined by law in every country. So far, only few countries within the EU actually implemented such definition in their internal law. Second of all, we need to establish specialized hotlines which will help women and simultaneously tackle the domestic violence and therefore will prevent femicides from happening. Third of all, society has to stop forcing women to stay in abusive relationships to fulfil their roles as mothers, as wives, as tools of religious fathers, or of God. We must realize the pressure under which a woman functions, so we’ll become aware of dangers which haunts her daily such as femicide.   

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