The crime of femicide unfortunately comes in multiple forms, but in every version it involves the intentional killing or murder of a woman simply because she is a woman. It is a gender-specific criminal act of the worst kind, ending a life intentionally. Femicide has and does occur against both grown women and girls around the world. While it make see that the act has more notoriety in recent years thanks to the press, in reality femicide has always been present in different societies. This does not justify the crime by any means; instead, femicide has been often buried in the background of old society and not talked about.
In most femicide cases, the perpetrator is a man. It has happened, however, that in rare cases the killer is a woman, usually where family is involved, ironically. This makes the matter a bit confusion, raising questions as to what makes femicide any different from a generic intentional murder. The difference is in the motivation. With a femicide killing, the perpetrator is killing the victim because she is a woman or taking advantage of the fact that she is a woman to make the murder easier. In a generic murder, the intent is driven by something, like an insurance policy, for example, or because someone cheated on a relationship and got found out.
Femicide is not clearly seen in crime statistics, which contributes to the crime not being well understood or “seen” by society. Even by those who study criminal statistics, femicide isn’t easy to splice out of the data. This is because murders of all types tend to be dumped into the generic category of homicides. While some jurisdictions are now trying to break out domestic violence situations from the general population, the major data collectors are still dealing with information in the old, traditional groups. This will likely change over time, especially as types of femicide unfortunately become far more visible in a digital age as news versus being hidden. Yet despite all that awareness, femicide still occurs as often as it does, and data collection moves shockingly slow.
Intimate and Personal Femicide
In this type of femicide murder, the crime has been committed by an intimate spouse or partner of the victim. It’s long been categories as domestic violence that leads to a divorce. And the statistical portion of femicides is very high from this group. Over 35 percent of femicide cases were committed by a boyfriend, spouse or intimate partner. The courts will often just manage these cases as a domestic violence murder, but there is a huge difference between punching someone or flat out killing them due to gender.
An honor killing is essentially done to restore honor back to a family after a girl or young woman in a family has embarrassed the family’s name and reputation. In the minds of the father and male members of the family, informal behavior is more than enough to stain the family’s name in a community and must be dealt with. Surprisingly, older female members of the family will often support and participate in the set up for such a killing, being driven far more by the perspective of the family’s honor being damaged than the love for the female family member to be murdered.
Honor killings are often justified in the minds of the murders to resolve an illicit sexual relationship found out, adultery, sexual flirting or unwholesome behavior with a non-family male. In reality, the large number of cases are due to a young woman learning about and exerting Western-style principles of choosing her own partner and spouse instead of following a family’s custom of an arranged marriage. Typically the father or brothers are so offended by the behavior of a female family member, they take it upon themselves to restore the family honor after the problem becomes known in a community. Subterfuge and lies are used to bring the errant female family member close to the fold. Then the family members take action and the killing occurs, including the woman’s unacceptable partner or new spouse of possible.
A murder of a women due to her gender but where the victim is not really known or in the family of the perpetrator is known as the third group of cases with this crime. Mexico’s city, Ciudad Juarez, is one of the most recent and notorious reputations for femicide. The victim number is over 700, and the killings continue. The femicides in Juarez have been going on for some time, yet the local police have effectively been helpless in stopping the crimes. In many cases, the local officers don’t want to get cross with a local drug dealer and then be found in a car riddled with bullets. As a result, Ciudad Juarez remains completely out of control , driving many to leave the jurisdiction, and the remaining to always walk around looking over their shoulder. The Juarez femicide cases have also gained global attention, both because of the number and the fact that the issue continues despite the widespread attention.
Is Prevention Possible?
Are there ways to stop or lessen the activity in Ciudad Juarez? Yes. One option is to make sure all the city lights are working and lit. May non-intimate attacks on women occur because a location cannot be easily seen by passing cars or pedestrians on main streets. A second option is to push that government and local authority statistics are broken out accordingly so that the true impact of femicide can occur. Third, a public airing of femicide, what it is and why should be prevented is clearly needed on an ongoing basis. People need regular reminders and education. When everyone is aware of what femicide is, then they can group together to stop it. Unfortunately, without these steps even started, the situation in Juarez is likely to continue.
Femicide is out of the shadows now because cultures that have long been kept separate are being thrown together and because news now moves by the minute and hour versus the week and month. Now that the world is more aware, it has an obligation to do something about the crime, but too often our world won’t get off its rear and follow through. So dozens of Juarez’s continue to exist, and the issue gets buried as an unsolvable serious killing, an enraged father in a family honor craze, or an odd loon ball misogynist to hates women. In reality, the femicide is far more common than rare occasions. And as the world gets closer to itself, the crime becomes more apparent and continues.