Why We Should Be Talking About Femicide…

Femicides can be defined as the deliberate act of killing that is fueled by gender-related motivation. Despite decades of activism as well as increasing awareness of violence against women, the available evidence has shown that the progress being made to stop these acts of violence is incredibly inadequate.
22 September 2023

Released ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in 2022, UN Women & UNODC joined together to create a second edition of their report on gender related killings of women and girls. The report highlights the urgent need to help combat such a persistent, global issue.

Women & girls are most likely to be killed by those closest to them

In 2021 alone, around 45,000 women and girls were killed worldwide by their intimate partners or family members – fathers, mothers, uncles and brothers. That equates to, on average, more than five women or girls being killed every hour by someone in their own family.

Femicide is a universal problem

In 2021, according to the report, Asia recorded the highest number of female intimate partner and family related killings with an estimated 17,800 victims. That is followed by Africa with 17,200, 7,500 in the Americas, Europe with 2,500 and 300 in Oceania.

The true scale of femicide is likely to be much higher

Despite the numbers listed in the report being incredibly high, this is not the true statistics because so many victims of femicide still go uncounted for. This can be simply due to there not being enough information to classify and identify them as gender based killings because of the national variation of criminal justice recordings and investigation practices.

Marginalised women and girls face a greater risk

Access to data and information on gender related killings in marginalised groups however, the evidence that has been found available from Canada and America suggest that indigenous women are at a higher risk of being affected by gender related killings. In Canada, at 4.3 per 100,000 women and girls, the rate of female homicide was five times higher among indigenous than among non-indigenous women and girls in 2021.

Preventing femicide means that authorities should have comprehensive data that identifies the women and girls who are at a greater risk to help implement better prevention and protection measures.

Femicide can and must be prevented

Violence against women and girls is something that can be stopped and is not something that is simply inevitable. It’s about education and implementation of measures that protect women and girls against this type of violence. Governments should be held accountable in how they support women and girls in need as well as providing support for centres and shelters alongside financial support to women’s rights organisations which will help reduce and prevent gender-related killings and all forms of violence against women and girls.

Femicide in Luxembourg

In September 2022, the news broke of the brutal murder of Diana Santos, a portuguese woman in her 40s who had recently moved to Diekirch, was found brutally murdered and dismembered in Mont-saint-Martin across the French border. Following on from that, three weeks later, a 20 year old woman was beaten to death with a hammer at a house in Luxembourg City. In December 2022, the body of 32-year-old Diana Martins Cachapa, was discovered “partially dismembered and mutilated” in her apartment in Bonnevoie.

These three stories of course sent shockwaves through the country, however which was made more shocking was that these three deaths were labelled as homicides and were deemed no different than other murder in the country. 

Luxembourg has made impressive progress in recent years when it comes to tackling and improving gender equality and domestic violence. However, how these 3 murders were treated, starts to raise eyebrows on how women and girls are being protected from gender based violence.

Speaking to Euronews, Andrée Birnbaum, a spokesperson for the domestic violence support group Femmes en Détresse, said “in Luxembourg, we have normally about 1-2 femicides per year, this seems to not be a big number, but it is more or less the same proportion as in France.”

According to data from the Luxembourg Government’s Equality Observatory, in Luxembourg last year; 

  • 2,521 people were affected by physical violence
  • 2,374 by psychological violence
  • 150 victims of sexual domestic violence
  • 264 victims of economic violence

Why Should Femicide Be Recognised As a Separate Crime?

A spokesperson from the European Institute for Gender Equality spoke to Euronews, saying “The experts we interviewed noted that recognising femicide as a separate criminal offence could bring numerous benefits. They pointed out that it could improve awareness raising, prevention and applying the law.” 

Changing this would help improve the visibility of femicide crimes and help in recognising gender based violence and could help increase the amount of cases reported to the police.

As of 2023, Luxembourg has no intention of recognising femicide as a crime. In Luxembourg, intentional assault and battery against an intimate partner is punishable by 6 months to 5 years imprisonment while murder is punishable by life imprisonment.

The Ministry of Justice made a statement to Euronews saying, “there are currently no plans to create a specific offence of this kind, given that the legal scope of such an offence would be considerably limited.” “The introduction of an offence of femicide would therefore have no legal impact, particularly in terms of sentencing.”

We deserve the right to feel safe when we walk down the street, the right to feel like we can walk away from a dangerous or abusive male figure in our life, without the fear of violence or worse, death. Luxembourg has made incredible steps forward in helping to tackle these difficult issues however despite the 2022 string of female murders in the Grand Duchy, there are still many that go unreported. For right now, it’s impossible to predict what will happen but at the heart of issues such as gender related violence, the core value remains that women and girls deserve nothing more than to feel protected.

Euronews article: https://www.euronews.com/2023/07/12/femicide-is-luxembourg-failing itswomen#:~:text=%E2%80%9CIn%20Luxembourg%2C%20we%20have%20normally,group%20Femmes%20en%20D%C3%A9tresse%20said.