Femicide is generally defined as the murder of women because they are women, though some definitions include any murders of women or girls.
Femicide has been identified globally as a leading a cause of premature death for women, yet there is limited research on the issue in Europe.
“Often I think women and young girls who are murdered become a statistic. This actually represents real people.
Many of these people were not heard, were failed by society and they shouldn’t have been.”
– Julie Warren-Sykes, mother of 18 year-old Samantha Sykes, murdered 2012.
The Femicide Census
The Femicide Census is a database currently containing information on almost one thousand women killed by men in England and Wales since 2009. It is a ground-breaking project which aims to provide a clearer picture of men’s fatal violence against women by allowing for detailed tracking and analysis.
The Census has been developed out of an urgent need to address the reality of fatal male violence against women. We believe it can play a key part in the identification of patterns of femicide, the circumstances leading up to it and ultimately help us reduce femicide.
In February 2015 the Femicide Census was launched. It was based on information collected by Karen Ingala Smith and recorded in her blog Counting Dead Women. Since January 2012 she has searched the web for news of women killed by men; information that was hidden in plain sight- in a plethora of Domestic Homicide Reviews, police statistics, local press articles and reports in which women killed by men were mentioned.
She gathered details of the perpetrators and the incident of murder itself, including the date, names, police force area and information about children, recorded motive and the weapon.
In December 2016, the Femicide Census Report was released covering seven years and bringing together information on 936 women in England and Wales killed by men.
The recommendations in the report calls on Government to urgently undertake key actions, including:
- Support the Femicide Census with the collection of data on femicides, which is key to defining and understanding the causes and consequences of men’s violence against women including femicide.
- Ensuring specialist domestic abuse and sexual violence services have sustainable, long term funding and that funding is available for specialist projects for women to exit prostitution.
- Recognising that post-separation is a significantly heightened risk period for women leaving abusive relationships.
For Police to:
- Include information and learning from the findings of the Femicide Census in their training to improve their response to women at risk of femicide, ensuring the seriousness of threats of violence and killing are recognised and taken seriously and perpetrators prosecuted. Training should also challenge stereotypes and reduce victim blaming.
For the Criminal Justice System to:
- Improve sentencing. Appropriate sanctions for perpetrators of all forms of men’s violence against women and girls, including perpetrators of femicide sends out the message that violence against women and girls will be taken seriously and be rigorously punished by the law. The Crown Prosecution Service must review charging in cases of femicide and the sentencing Council must review sentencing for femicide perpetrators to ensure effective sanctions are in place to hold perpetrators to account.
For the media to:
- Ensure appropriate reporting of femicide cases with due respect to the victim and her family. News reports should not be overly sympathetic to perpetrators, privileging the perpetrator’s story. Women should not be written out of reports nor should women be defined one-dimensionally by their relationship to men/families