Femicide as a Phenomenon in Europe

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Regional Dossier


This dossier will talk about femicides as a phenomenon in Europe. Femicide is still a major concern in many European Union member states that frequently goes unmentioned. Investigating the definitions and implications of this issue is necessary to grasp its seriousness (UN Women, 2022). There are still many definitions of femicide thus there is a need for the EU to find a coherent and shared definition to solve the issue.

According to EIGE (2021) 444 women were killed by intimate partners in 10 EU member states in 2020.  Additionally, ‘In 2020, many European countries saw a high number in the reported cases of femicide. In 2020 there were estimated to have been 400 femicides in Poland, 117 in Germany, 102 in Italy, and 99 in Hungary’ (Statista ,2023).

However, UNODC stated that 'In 2020, some 47,000 women and girls were killed by their intimate partners or other family members worldwide, to speak only of femicides committed in the family' (UN, 2022).


Femicide is a still prevalent issue across Europe

Gregoratto, (2017) states that femicides are a prevalent issue across Europe. Despite the common belief of high gender equality in Europe, the region has the second highest percentage of female homicide victims after Asia. We can understand femicide by examining our gender dichotomy and patriarchal system. Looking at our patriarchal system, the conclusion that femicide is irrational can be countered, because femicide is a response to an "objective" flawed or warped logic that is ingrained in the patriarchal system, femicide is not irrational. In our patriarchal society, the gender dichotomy is deeply ingrained. Due to this dichotomy, women are on the side of dependency while males are on the side of independence.  Whereas usually, a power dynamic between lovers should reflect a process of empowerment for both parties, because of the gender dichotomy this is not the case. Males begin to dominate women in their love relationships. Possible effects include men occasionally resorting to violence to maintain their dominance over women. In case, violence isn't enough to keep power over a woman,a man can use murder as a last effort to reclaim control (which is paradoxical because a man requires the woman, who is alive, to exercise authority over her).This sort of femicide can be labeled as romantic femicide which is a severe form of violence that results from men’s incapacity to cope with their (female) partner’s autonomy and power. Finally, it may be said that the violence utilized is not an expression of power, but rather weakness. Moreover, this shows that femicide is not irrational, but deeply rooted in our patriarchal system and gender dichotomy. 

Istanbul Convention

In an effort to address gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against women (VAW), the Istanbul Convention emerged on May 11, 2011, in Istanbul, Turkey.  The Council of Europe created this agreement, which set forth legally enforceable guidelines for the prevention of GBV, the protection of victims, and the punishment of perpetrators. With duties ranging from data collection and public awareness raising to the execution of legislative measures, the Istanbul Convention represented a crucial turning point in the fight against violence against women and femicide (European Parliament, 2018). 

Future steps for the European Union to combat femicide

The EIGE which is a self-governing organization of the European Union was created to advance gender equality across the EU suggests future steps for the European Union to combat femicide within the EU.  (Improving legal responses to counter femicide in the European Union: Perspectives from victims and professionals , 2023).  


Steps recommended by the EIGE (2023) to combat femicide in the EU include:

1.Take a leading role in developing legal standards protecting women from violence

2. Ensure coordinated action against femicide

3. Further strengthen the protection of victims’ rights

4. Improve the prevention of further violence against women

5. Strengthen the legal response to femicide

6. Improve data collection on femicide

7. Ensure access to justice

8. Improve access to reparation and compensation

9. Address the risk of spikes of gender-based violence during crises

Femicides are a prevalent issue across Europe. Despite the common belief of high gender equality in Europe, the region has the second highest percentage of female homicide victims after Asia.

About the research:

This dossier is part of a Living Lab project from Groningen University, Campus Fryslân. This project offers students a unique opportunity to apply their academic knowledge and skills in real-world scenarios. The Living Lab is a key component of the bachelor's degree program 'Global Responsibility and Leadership' . Our team, comprised of Lee, Josefina, and Linde, collaborated with UNSA Vienna & Femicide Watch and undertook an academic systematic literature review focused on conceptualizations, prevalence rates, measurements, risk factors, policies, and interventions of femicides in Europe, with a specific focus on the Netherlands. The findings presented in this dossier serve as an output of our research.




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