Femicide is the ultimate form of violence against women and girls and takes multiple forms. Its many causes are rooted in the historically unequal power relations between men and women and in systemic gender-based discrimination. For a case to be considered femicide there must be an implied intention to carry out the murder and a demonstrated connection between the crime and the female gender of the victim.1 So far, data on femicide have been highly unreliable and the estimated numbers of women who have been victims of femicides vary accordingly. Femicides take place in every country of the world. The greatest concern related to femicide is that these murders continue to be accepted, tolerated or justified – with impunity as the norm.
On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Vienna Liaison Office of ACUNS organized a one-day symposium on femicide in the United Nations (UN) Office in Vienna. (1) Member State representatives, social scientists, NGO representatives, law enforcement officials, prosecutors and feminist activists had the opportunity to speak about femicide, explain its meaning and causes, and presented examples of best practice in fighting femicide.
This publication is the result of this symposium and comprises the speeches and presentations of the various experts of the symposium. They discussed the issue of femicide from different perspectives, addressed the problems related to femicide including impunity and proposed comprehensive ways to fight this crime efficiently. In addition to the speeches this publication contains further information about the major forms of femicide. These short articles give an overview of the various crimes, including a description of the extent of the respective form of femicide and best practice examples to fight this crime. The list of examples is by no means exhaustive but all should be considered murder under the law. In September 2012 an important step was taken in El-Salvador to elaborate a “Protocol for the investigation and documentation of extreme violence against women”, which can be found in this publication.
This publication also contains the first UN document to focus on gender-based killings, the 2012 report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, to the Human Rights Council. In response to the presentation of this report sixty four states issued a statement that member states “must exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators”.
The aim of this publication is to inform practitioners, Member State representatives, NGO workers, legislators, prosecutors and any other relevant actors who can contribute to putting an end to femicide. With this information about the diverse campaigns, we hope that efforts can be combined and strengthened to end this hideous crime once and for all.
Claire Laurent and Michael Platzer
ACUNS Vienna Liason Office
1 The symposium was organized with the kind support of the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs; the Permanent Missions to the UN Office at Vienna of Austria, Argentina, Philippines, Thailand, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; Small Arms Survey and the Vienna NGO Committee on the Status of Women.