What is Femicide?

Generally speaking, the term femicide refers to the killing of women and girls because they are females, i.e. because of their gender.

The previous SRVAW, professor Rashida Manjoo, started to create a knowledge base surrounding this phenomenon in her thematic reports, arguing that it “represents the extreme manifestation of existing forms of violence against women […] gender-related killings are not isolated incidents which arise suddenly and unexpectedly, but are rather the ultimate act of violence which is experienced in a continuum of violence”(A/HRC/20/16).

She further identified an extensive set of categories of femicide perpetrated directly and indirectly. The direct category includes: killings as a result of intimate-partner violence; sorcery/witchcraft-related killings; honour-related killings; armed conflict-related killings; dowry-related killings; gender identity- and sexual orientation-related killings; and ethnic- and indigenous identity-related killings.

The indirect category includes: deaths due to poorly conducted or clandestine abortions; maternal mortality; deaths from harmful practices; deaths linked to human trafficking, drug dealing, organized crime and gang-related activities; the death of girls or women from simple neglect, through starvation or ill-treatment; and deliberate acts or omissions by the State.

This list is ultimately non-exhaustive, since society is fluid and constantly changing, hence other forms of violence against women can emerge. New forms of femicide that are now receiving more attention include extremism, fundamentalism, and the killing of women in the flight.

In the context of data collection on femicide, it is important to distinguish between data collected at the national and at the international level. Some forms of femicide are more prevalent in some countries than in others, as this depends on the socio-cultural background. Furthermore, depending on the institutional and administrative capacities of a given country or region, there are states which only collect data on homicide, and others, particularly in Latin America, which do collect data on femicide, according to the way in which this type of criminal offense has been classified in the country’s legal framework.

Hence, when it comes to having statistics on this phenomenon at the global level it is important to stick to a framework that enables us to have the most comprehensive coverage of countries that are adequately covered. Moreover, it is important to operate within a statistical framework accepted by states, acknowledging the great diversity of legal systems that exist.

When it comes to presenting statistics on femicide at the global level, this platform will operate within the broader framework of homicide, presenting data on the subset categories of homicide by intimate partners and family members. This approach is in line with the methodology adopted by UNODC in its Global Study on Homicide (2013) and also in its more recent tool, the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (2015). This by no means denies the existence of other forms of femicide: information on other direct and indirect categories of femicide will also be collected.