“We can no longer stand by as women are murdered for one reason and one reason only, because they are women. The crime of femicide is growing all over the world and often remains unpunished. It is a human rights violation that is characterized by misunderstanding and impunity.”
– Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile
This is now the fourth volume of “Femicide: A Global Issue that Demands Action” since the 2012 report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, which listed the various forms of femicide. While the international community condemns the killing of women in the name of honour, targeted sexual violence in war, female infanticide and sex-selective foeticide, female genital mutilation and child marriage, these practices continue. At times, it seems that we are returning to ancient times when women were kidnapped by soldiers, gang-raped, sold in slave markets and forced into submission in marriage to strangers. Even UN peacekeepers have been accused of sexual abuse of civilians. We are now fortunate to have two outspoken advocates for women, Mrs. Dubravka Simonovic, Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and Mrs. Bangura, Special Rapporteur on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
We are pleased to have helped in the adoption of the second General Assembly resolution “Taking Action against the Killing of Women and Girls”. Delegates have referred to the Femicide volumes as “resource handbooks” in negotiating language for the two resolutions. We believe this series not only provides a historical record of the progress made but gives Parliamentarians, government officials, and advocates material to reform national legislation and strengthen machinery to stop this abomination in the 21st century.
For the first time, the Resolution speaks of sexual violence in conflict, targeted mass kidnapping, rape, and killing of women and girls, but it also reminds us that one in every two women victims of homicide is killed by an intimate partner or a family member. It stresses that Member States have the obligation to prosecute and punish those responsible, no matter who the perpetrators of such crimes are and to, once and for all, eliminate impunity.
The resolution also appreciated the input of civil society organisations as well as academia in addressing different forms of violence, through research and direct action in their communities. It takes note of the international tribunal and national courts which have prosecuted femicide, but also recognises that violence against women is the least punished crime in the world. Not only should these crimes be investigated and prosecuted but also reparation, compensation and necessary legal, medical, psychological and social support be given to survivors, the families and dependents of victims. Civil society is explicitly mentioned to provide sustainable assistance and facilitate access to justice to survivors and dependents.
The resolution encourages Member States and relevant United Nations entities to raise awareness regarding gender-related killing of women and girls. For this purpose, the Academic Council on the United Nations System and the co-sponsors of the resolution are organising a consultation during the 70th session of the General Assembly to discuss what practical measures the United Nations and the international community can undertake to actually stop these heinous medieval crimes.
—Michael Platzer, Milica Dimitrijevic, Andrada Filip and ACUNS Vienna Femicide Team