11 Facts You Need To Educate Yourself On The Horror Of Femicide

by Lorenzo Ligato

The word "femicide" has recently been in the headlines of all worldwide major media outlets.

After hundreds of cases of women killed by their husbands, exes and boyfriends went unnoticed by city authorities in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the hashtag #NiUnaMenos ("Not One Less") took the Internet by storm, becoming the official slogan against sexual violence in Latin America.

Femicide, however, is not a narrative unique to South and Central America.

It occurs across continents and cultures — from India to England to the United States — and it's deeply rooted in issues of race, socio-economic status, sexual orientation and legal practices.

Here are some of the most startling facts about this worldwide femicide:

1. The term femicide was first used in John Corry’s 1801 book, “A Satirical View of London at the Commencement of the Nineteenth Century,” to signify "the killing of a woman."

In 1848, the word was incorporated in Wharton's Law Lexicon, suggesting the practice had become a prosecutable offense.

2. The word femicide was popularized in the 1970s by activist and author Diana H. Russell.

Russell redefined the term as "the killing of females by males because they are females," proposing it as an alternative to the gender-neutral "homicide."

3. In 1992, Russell coauthored an anthology titled, "Femicide: The Politics of Woman Killing."

The book is a wide-ranging study documenting the phenomenon of femicide as it occurs across the United States, the United Kingdom and India.

It also analyzes the roles social values and institutions play in perpetuating femicide.

The book's intent was to "institutionalize the use of the word 'femicide' in the English language," which "would have predicated widespread resistance to it."

4. Femicide encompasses a wide range of social, economic, sexual orientation and gender-identity issues, including “racist femicide” (or, the racially-motivated killing of women by men of a different race) and “lesbicide” (the murder of lesbians across different cultural and historical contexts).

5. "Intimate femicide" (the murder of a woman by a current or former husband or partner) is one of the most widespread types of femicide.

More than 35 percent of all murders of women globally are reportedly committed by an intimate partner, according to preliminary findings of a study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

In comparison, only about 5 percent of all murders of men are committed by an intimate partner.

6. One group of women who may be at increased risk of intimate partner femicide are pregnant women.

A WHO multi-country study found that the prevalence of physical-intimate partner violence in pregnancy ranges between 1 percent (in Japan cities) and 28 percent (in Peru provinces).

7. Unemployment, gun ownership and substance abuse are some of the factors that might increase the risk of men perpetrating femicide.

8. More than half the of 25 countries with the highest femicide rates are in the Latin American and Caribbean region, according to a 2012 report by the Small Arms Survey, an independent research project in Geneva.

Among the most disturbing examples, at least 400 women have been brutally murdered during the past decade in the city of Ciudad Juárez, on the Mexico–US border.

9. In some regions of the world, femicide is linked to cultural practices, such as conflicts related to dowry.

In 2006, India’s National Crime Records Bureau reported approximately 7,600 dowry-related deaths, "while other estimates put the annual figure at more than double that number."

10. COST, an intergovernmental agency supporting cooperation among researchers, engineers and scholars across Europe, started a “Training School” dedicated to spreading awareness and preventing femicide.

11. Karen Ingala Smith, chief executive of British anti-violence organization nia, has opened a blog where she keeps track of all women known or suspected to have been killed by men in the UK.

So far in 2015, 48 UK women are suspected to have been killed by men between January and May. That’s one woman dead every 3.15 days.