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Femicide is generally defined as the murder of women because they are women, though some definitions include any murders of women or girls [1].

Femicide has been used to describe killings of women by intimate partners and family members; it has also been used to describe gender-related killings in the community [2]. The term femicide was introduced in the last century to describe killings of women that were gender related in order to recognise the impact of inequality and discrimination, identified internationally as a root cause of violence against women [3].

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. The Global Study on Homicide in 2011 indicated that while there has been a decrease in homicides worldwide there has been an increased in the number of femicides[4].

In the United Kingdom, over the last ten years on average a woman is killed by her male partner or former partner every four days. Frequently these murders have been premeditated and follow a pattern of violence and abuse that terrorise the victim.

The calculation for “a woman is killed by her male partner or former partner every four days”.

1248 women, 738 have been killed by a partner or former partner. This figure comes from the Femicide Census 2017 which comprises 1248 women from 2009 – 2017 (3287 days in total) and includes two leap years. In regards to countries included:

  • 2009 to 2015 – England and Wales
  • 2016 – England, Wales and NI
  • 2017 – England, Wales, NI and Scotland (UK)

“I think there is a real need for us to educate the community. The answer to domestic violence is not totally in police and other agencies, it simply can’t be. It has to be in the community…”

– Frank Mullane, brother of a sister murdered by her husband.

Frank-Mullane Femicide-Census-film


[1] WHO, Understanding and addressing violence against women, 2012. The term feminicide has also been used. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/77421/1/WHO_RHR_12.38_eng.pdf

[2] For further details on the development of the term femicide see the Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, R. Manjoo,  UN GA Human Rights Council 20th Session, 23 May 2012, A/HRC/20/16, p6.

[3]Council of Europe, Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, 2011, Preamble and Article 3.

[4] UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Global Study on Homicide, 2011.

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