Femicide

last updated September 4, 2008

The term “femicide” is used to describe the killings of women and girls because of their gender. This term was first introduced by Jill Radford and Diane Russell in 1992. From: Diana E.H. Russell and Jill Radford, Femicide: The Politics of Woman Killing, Twayne Publishers, New York, 1992. According to a UNFPA article on eliminating violence against women, femicide is an extreme form of gender-based violence that culminates in the murder of women and may include torture, mutilation, cruelty, and sexual violence. The causes and risk factors of this type of violence are linked to gender inequality, discrimination, and economic disempowerment and are the result of a systematic disregard for women’s human rights. It occurs in an environment where everyday acts of violence are accepted and impunity is facilitated by the government’s refusal to deal with the problems. 

Statistics on femicide are difficult to obtain, but evidence does reveal that femicide in the CEE/FSU exists in the form of murders of women by their spouses or other family members as will be discussed in Prevalence of Femicide. Some CEE/FSU countries have drafted, passed, and/or amended their laws to address femicide. Some governments have also created task forces to address forms of violence against women. NGOs in Afghanistan and Turkey are addressing femicide in the context of murders of women during war and also honor killings. 

Femicide is a violation of women's human rights. Women have the right to be free from violence under international, federal and state law. States are obligated under international law to take effective steps to protect women from violence, hold offenders accountable, and to guarantee to women equal protection of the law.