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Woman Killing is Political and What Should Be Done To Prevent Femicide?

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Abstract

Women are exposed to all types of violence, pressure and discrimination, which should be a public and social issue. Femicide or feminicide comes as a consequence of violation of the right to life among many forms of violence as, particularly sexual, physical, economic, political, psychological violence. We have to put the name: Femicide or feminicide. This is a crime against humanity. The primary characteristic of femicide is that it is systematic. Main qualities of being systematic are its being continuous, conscious, sequential, desensitized, conditioned and naturalizing violence against women in the social, legal, educational and cultural systems, by the way of misogynist actions, discourses and practices. Femicide carries all these features, so it is a systematic and deliberate state policy. Women are exposed to Femicide all over the world starting from the childhood. National and international feminist struggle should act together against Femicide. While the state's primary task is to ensure the safety of life, a government if it is still in power that cannot fulfill the democratic and legal state means that it is trifled and ignores the murders of women in Turkey. Turkey is one of the countries among the ones which have applied for EU membership that has signed international conventions to empower women but it is still the only country which fails to establish necessary national mechanisms. Women are all potentially victims of Femicide/Feminicide, and we are potentially dead. Femicide or feminicide definitions, Declaration of Vienne, WHO and U.N. Reports, Cost Action Across Europe Movement, will be sources of our study.
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International Conference on Knowledge and Politics in Gender and Women’s Studies
Woman Killing is Political and What Should Be Done To
Prevent Femicide?
Gülser Öztunalı Kayıra*, Ayşe Kalavb
abAkdeniz University, Department of Public Administration, Turkey
Abstract
Women are exposed to all types of violence, pressure and discrimination, which should be a public and social issue.
Femicide or feminicide comes as a consequence of violation of the right to life among many forms of violence as,
particularly sexual, physical, economic, political, psychological violence. We have to put the name: Femicide or
feminicide. This is a crime against humanity. The primary characteristic of femicide is that it is systematic. Main
qualities of being systematic are its being continuous, conscious, sequential, desensitized, conditioned and
naturalizing violence against women in the social, legal, educational and cultural systems, by the way of misogynist
actions, discourses and practices. Femicide carries all these features, so it is a systematic and deliberate state policy.
Women are exposed to Femicide all over the world starting from the childhood. National and international feminist
struggle should act together against Femicide. While the state's primary task is to ensure the safety of life, a
government if it is still in power that cannot fulfill the democratic and legal state means that it is trifled and ignores
the murders of women in Turkey. Turkey is one of the countries among the ones which have applied for EU
membership that has signed international conventions to empower women but it is still the only country which fails
to establish necessary national mechanisms. Women are all potentially victims of Femicide/Feminicide, and we are
potentially dead. Femicide or feminicide definitions, Declaration of Vienne, WHO and U.N. Reports, Cost Action
Across Europe Movement, will be sources of our study.
© 2015 Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Department of Gender and Women’s
Studies, Middle East Technical University
Keywords: Femicide- feminicide, misogynist, Across Europe Movement, right to life, Turkey
*Corresponding Author. Tel: +90555 266 81 65; +90555 721 90 86.
E-mail address: gulserkayir@akdeniz.edu.tr; aysekalav@akdeniz.edu.tr
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1. Introduction
When we examine the social life, scientific studies, literature, art, education and law, we see that Belkıs’
sentence (2010) saying that “Women should die.” is repeated. The universal hegemony is thus established
and the woman’s being disposed of the right to live is not discussed in society and the academy
conscientiously, which legitimizes the issue. History repeats itself in femicide. In South America, Africa
and United Nations, the notion of femicide is frequently used. When Canada discusses the killing of 80
women in 2010, in our country a dreadful report delivered by Human Rights Association in İstanbul reveals
that 4.190 were killed and 3.074 women were raped between the years 2005 and 2011. Canadian Council
of Muslim Women suggests that all killings of women should be conceptualized as femicide by asserting
that these murders are related to humiliation of women and misogyny. It is also seen that there are some
obstacles to use the concept of femicide this concept is not used in Turkish literature; woman killing
(kadın cinayetleri) is used instead - in Turkey. Social, cultural, political, legal and particularly academic
obstacles are in question. Naming the problem is of vital importance for the struggle. This study aims to
reveal the obstacles through exploring the history of conceptualization rather than putting forward
mitigating notions and discuss as to what could be done against the problem of femicide going beyond
expressing the issue just in numbers. I am in the opinion that we should give up using the term woman
killing; we should start using the concept of “Cinskıyım” in order to express the vital situation of woman
in our country.
2. Method
The historical exploration of academic conceptualization concerning the notion femicide is analyzed within
the frame of patriarchy and politics of hegemony. A historical analysis of such notions as femicide,
misogyny, masculinity, male dominance with a sociologic and historical perspective is presented and
revealing the obstacles in the struggle is examined. The things that could be done to prevent femicide are
discussed by putting forward the examples from the world and the developments in Turkey with a deductive
method.
3. A Historical Glance towards Femicide/Feminicide
A woman is dispossessed of the right to live as a consequence of multi-violence actions such as sexual
violence, physical violence, economic violence, political violence, psychological violence, media violence
and digital violence. The notion of femicide is used as feminicide in French and femicide in English
literature and furthermore it becomes a research object for a great number of academicians in recent years.
However, I am in the opinion that we are late to discuss the scientific conceptualization in our country. The
concepts of femicide or feminicide are discussed worldwide. Looking at the notion in a historical
perspective; Corry (1801) mentioned “the killing of women” in 1801. In 1848, the concept of “murderer of
women” is used in Anglo-Saxon law. In 1853, the concept gains a political and naturalist essence by
Toussenel (1853) and it started to include the dominance over women beyond woman killing.
Carol Orlock is the first one to use the concept and she prepared the Feminist Anthology in 1975; yet it
is not published. Since then, academic discussions go further concerning the concept of femicide and it is
reconsidered and its content is extended through a review.
In 1976 the concept is broadened to include a legal dimension and in 1976 International Court of Woman
Killing, the concept is referred to and it is stated even in those years that we should accept the woman
killing as a gender policy (Russell and Van de Ven, 1976:144-146).
Russell (1982) in her book named “Marital Rape” describes the concept of femicide as “the woman
killing simply because she is born as female”. Displaying a biological quality gaining a sociological and
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political content to understand femicide and violence against women reveals a new dimension and gender
policy.
Jacqueline Campbell (1992:11) emphasizes in her article named “All women are at the risk of femicide.”
the prevalence of the notion and the logic behind those murders affecting all women by stating that no
women lives in a world where their security of live is guaranteed. Femicide is described as “the woman
killing by a misogynist man” by Russell and Radford (1992) and it is stated that it is a specific murder.
Russell’s presentation in May, 2008 in the gathering to understand the concept of femicide is entitled as
“Femicide: Politicization of Woman Killing”. Today, she struggles to announce the origin and importance
of the concept to the entire world.
After the meeting of Inter American Women Coalition, An Experts Committee Studying Violence, a
Femicide Declaration was published (15.08.2008) and the concepts “Femicide and Feminicide” are used
together. The basic principle of the study is that he committee decides to use the concept of femicide in
their researches and documents from now on. That declaration describing the woman killing in Latin
America and Caribbean and including their demands from the governments and media; and makes the
concept femicide clear and starts to use it in formal studies. In the declaration, the concept is described as
following:
“…the women’s being killed simply because they are born as female, inclusion of family in the matter,
being prepared by domestic relations or relations with other people or government and its institutions”
(Femicide Declaration, 2008:10).
Marcela Lagarde (2012) emphasizes the usage of femicide rather than feminicide as the former includes
the impunity and that idea is accepted. Vienna Femicide Declaration, states that woman killing occurs in
11 ways (2012:4-7): 1)domestic partner violence 2)Torture and misogyny murder 3)woman and girl killing
in the name of honour 4)targeting women and girl in war times 5)due to dowry 6)woman and girl killing
due to their gender identities and sexual orientations 7)woman killing due to their origins 8)girl killing as
they do not born as male 9)murders related to female genital mutilation 10)killing due to witchcraft 11)drug,
human trafficking, organized crimes. Declaration states that femicide gives alarm as it not only brings
forward the female weakness and subservience but it also gives a negative message to the society that it is
unavoidable and uncontrollable. In Criminology Conference, 2012, the multicidal dimension is included,
which describes the serial and massive murders (Joseph, 2012). From time to time, the expression of anti-
woman terror is used.
The report by World Health Organization (2012) analyzes the forms of femicide within the frame of
women and the murderers; categorizes four types and four levels as individual, familial, community and
societal structure. Woman killing due to 1) murders by their partners or husbands, 2) murders in the name
of honour, 3) dowry- it happens mostly in South Asia, 4) murders as a result of sexual assault or torture.
It is necessary to state that expressing the concept of femicide as women killing in Turkish is problematic
in academic terms. It is necessary to understand that woman killing which can also be used for murders
committed by women is invalid. It will be more appropriate to use woman massacre or sexocide in order to
draw the attention for its relation to the women. In the same meaning with femicide, the concepts as
gynecide or gynocide starting with the word jin which means woman are also encountered. In order to avoid
the incomprehensibility and not to moderate the notion, I suggest the usage of femicide. We have to name
it from now on. This is femicide and human rights violation. It occurs as a consequence of intervention over
women’s bodies and gender violence and it ends up woman killing.
4. Femicide Has Sociological and Political Aspects
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Bourdieu’s concepts “habitus” and “space” which explore and explains the reproduction mechanisms
of social life reveal the power relations, structures, inequalities and the societal contexts of what is
individual. Within this perspective, persistence of woman massacre over the centuries can be stated to be
the social consequence of misogyny which becomes a behavior as a result of murders’ thinking, perception
and feeling; because the subordinate status of women, perceptions towards women suggest the exclusion,
exploitation, dominance and destruction of women. It will not be wrong to evaluate woman killing as “the
structured characteristic of interiorized tendencies”(Bourdieu, 1990:73), because disregarding the fact that
the man commits the act of murder as a result of not accidental but conscious dispositions and evaluations
forms the legal basis for woman killing.
Bourdieu (1998:59) who cannot think masculinity and femininity separately describes masculinity as
“the thing produced as anti-feminine in front of and for men; fearing of himself at first and what is
feminine”. That fear manifests itself as a play to display his power and oppression over women which ends
in femicide today. The assertion that states “the security of the oppressor is synonymous with the control
of the oppressed”(Bulduruç, 2013) can be the explanation of that justification. The background of violence
against women and femicide is related to late academic discussions besides the socio cultural economic
structure, politics and the prevalence of misogynist ideas.
Evaluated with a sociological perspective, we see that main social system exercises control over women
by exposing women to all types of discrimination, violence and oppression. 1) The patriarchal structure
with a male dominance which brings forward the subservience and conforming to men and requires a life
with patriarchal rules, 2) Sexist systems of relations and mechanisms which make a discrimination between
women and men and grant privileges for men, 3) The capitalist system’s exploitation of female domestic
labor can only exist in slavery systems. Besides the relationality of those systems with each other, the
persistence of such systems as actions and opinions, increasing female deaths as a result of what is political.
The principal attribute of violations of women’s vital rights is that they are systematic. The main
qualities of being systematic are persistent, conscious, serial, categorizing, desensitizing, conditioning
misogynist discourses, actions and practices in social, legal, educational, economic, etc. systems. Femicide
bears all these attributes; thus it is a systematic and conscious state policy, as well. The serious aspect of
the issue is that it occurs systematically and there is not an international power, state policy, decisiveness
and sanction to eliminate the problem although it is preventable. If women are subjected to femicide,
dispossessed of their rights to live starting from their childhood, international and national feminist struggle
should act together against misogyny. Femicide is multi-dimensional, having an institutional relationship,
groundbreaking and very different from other types of murders, systematic, gender-based and distinctive.
It also bears a holistic quality as it comes with all types of violence against women; because it is actualized
with the help of state, family, religion, politics, law, education, and economy as in the case of forced child
marriages, the fact that it is a crime is disregarded and impunity becomes the reality. Therefore, its being
systematic, persistent and occurring within or without family and not sporadic are the signs that it is a social
public issue.
It is time for the academic world in our country to head towards multi-disciplinal and gender-specific
studies by regarding the problem of femicide as a social and public issue. Cost Action studies continuing
in Europe are one example of that.
5. Some World Examples
In 2014, U.N. urged member states to end femicide/feminicide by 2015 in all countries. Between 1993
and 2011 nearly 1.300 women were killed by men in Ciudad Juárez, Mexica (Gilliozdu, 2014). The median
percentage of intimate partner homicides among murdered women was highest in Southeast Asia (58.8%,
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58.8–58·8), high income countries (41.2%, 30.8–44.5), the America (40.5%, 7.554.8), and Africa (40.1%,
38.641.7). Prevalence was lower in the western Pacific region (19.1%, 19.121.3), the low-income and
middle-income European region (20.0%, 1.8237.8), and the eastern Mediterranean region (14.4%, 5.3
23.6) (Stöckl, 2013). It is revealed in Max Dashu’s study that 11.766 American women are killed by their
husbands or boyfriends-three times more than the deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan and in US.
6. The Obstacles to Struggle against Femicide in Turkey
Femicide increases and it is triggered by such factors as the existence and persistence of a universal
patriarchal structure, patrilinearity and thus greed for sons, sexist perceptions, not practicing woman’s
human rights policies in a global scale as required, prevalence of misogynist state policies, justice without
a guaranty, social and cultural taboos, religious structures and etc.
A government’s remaining still in power while not providing a life security for women, which is the
government’s principal duty, means that there is not a democratic and constitutional state and the
government does not give any importance to woman killing. Turkey is the only country to sign the
international conventions and yet not build its own national strengthening mechanisms for women among
the countries applying for EU membership. AKP government carries out its policies through women’s
bodies, leaves women under the control of men, justifies the woman killing and intervention over women’s
bodies; and it regards the woman’s laughing, pregnancy, clothing, dancing, covering herself, and working
in public spaces as a way to control women. In such a period, women are therefore subjected to more
discrimination, violence and death in every year. Woman’s human rights are violated as a consequence of
a patriarchal mentality, rules and practices of law, religion, traditions and customs. Women are forced to
fall behind in education, economic and political life and they are left unequal and legally shelterless in front
of laws. If such an explanation as “Men and women are not equal; being equal is not in their nature.”can be
stated by a president, it shows us that we are governed by a sexist and patriarchal ideology which regards
inequality as unchanging and natural and that mentality brings forth at least three female deaths every day.
AKP government with the new draft of Turkish Criminal Law is prepared to decriminalize the crimes
against women and justify the impunity. How vital the monitoring is can be understood by the public
disclosures and explanations of Equality Monitoring Women’s Group (EŞİTİZ- Eşitlik İzleme Kadın
Grubu). Their public statement is of great importance in that they emphasize the need to reject the draft
thoroughly. This is one of the last signs of instrumentalization of women and girls, for the use of AKP
government’s retrogressing, religious and discriminatory policies.
The research about violence against women carried out by the government is concealed by the society
and the government does not publish the results of the research. However, the women’s organizations
could reach the research and it is revealed that 4 women out of 10 are subjected to violence and 89 percent
of women do not consult to anywhere in order to receive support or complain and what is worse; they do
not know where to consult. Government’s charging religious officials with interfering in all spaces of
women’s lives mean that the government requires the control of women’s bodies, making all decisions
family decisions and women being dispossessed of their rights to live and freedom.
According to the data by the General Commandership of Gendarmerie (2014) Antalya ranks the first
city with the number of 1.025 violence against women events in 2013. Muğla (807) and İzmir(700) are the
following cities. Antalya Governorate reports that there are 15 woman killing in 2010 and 11 woman killing
in 2011; furthermore more than 7000 women are subjected to violence. In the events of violence against
women in Antalya, the judge says “such events happens.”; police reconcile and women are sent to the
violence environment. Although it is required to keep the place of woman shelters secret, the husbands can
threaten the women’s relatives.
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The headmaster of Kepez Atatürk Anatolian High School commits a serious crime by considering that
girls’ wearing short shirts as an invitation for an assault and encouraging boys to harass girls as a solution.
This shows that the situation of Antalya is worse than other cities contrary to what is believed. 18.334 cases
of child sexual abuse were reported in 2011 by judicial statistics. We can predict that the numbers of child
sexual abuse will increase and cause more woman killing events.
Even two sentences of a 30.000TL budget project of Antalya Müftülüğü Family Consulting Bureau
which states that “It is necessary to increase the religious and moral values of women who are a sort of
second captain in the family. It is also important to give information to the adults in marriage age about the
sexual life as required by our religion.” are sufficient to comprehend the ideology behind it. This is the
example of the retrogressive government policy in Antalya.
The president’s statements as “Woman are at the mercy of men..”, “These feminists reject this” are the
signs that he does not regard women as an equal and free individual but subservient to religion and men;
he also points feminist and woman rights advocates as his targets which causes women to be subject to
more state violence.
Such sexist and misogynist remarks as “Women should not laugh.”, “Pregnant women should not go
out.”, “A working woman is preparing for prostitution.”, “A woman’s body is an ornament and thus
precious and required to be protected.” Form the basis of femicide.
A female correspondent when stating that “Do not profiteer saying Muslim country, rape… In America
every two minute a woman is raped. Now shout up.” is the indicator of that serious situation through media
which humiliates women, justifies the retarded ideology of the government and functions as the oppressive
instrument of the government.
Toker, Altun (doi: 10.18094/si.26839) states that “the media promotes the notion of violence. The
repeated scenes of violence in current affairs turn the violence into a thing to be watched and entertained
by normalizing it.” This feminist analysis emphasizes that there should be more discussion and research
about the impacts of media upon the gender policy and it also reveals that media is one of the principal
obstacles to struggle against femicide.
7. What Should Be Done To Prevent Femicide?
Femicide is primarily global and the solutions of it should be serious sanctions in national and
international scale in order to put the states under obligation.
7.1. Femicide across Europe Cost Action
Femicide Across Europe Cost Action Program initiated by COST European Cooperation in the Field of
Scientific Technical Research in later years can be used as a means of struggle. The project which carried
out its recent scientific meeting in a teacher’s training school in Rome in 20-24 June, 2015 started in 2013
and finishes in 2017. There are working groups in four different areas.
1. Definition Group: Analyzing the concepts as woman killing, intimate partner, femicide, gender-
based violence and exploring the theoretical confusion.
2. Reporting Group
3. Working group on intimate partner, femicide, and honour based murders.
4. Prevention
Comparing the definitions in different national frames in academic areas, exploring the effectiveness of
legal definitions, differentiation of femicide and intimate partner violence with other murders, broadening
the data collection techniques, analyzing the impacts of cultural texts, building a defense policy together
with such different groups as consulting groups, woman shelters, police and prison staff.
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Working Group asks such questions (Shröttle, 2013):
1.
What is the percentage of femicide among other murders and how does it persist?
2.
How does femicide change within time?
3.
What are the risk factors? Is there an alcohol addiction or domestic violence? Do they stay the same?
What are the risk factors in the country and the region?
4.
How do the state reaction, law and accusations change within time? Does state give reactions?
I would like to state that we as women from Turkey should participate in this action plan which I try to
summarize and international academic and imperative decisions and we furthermore should display that
femicide in Turkey is no different from other countries and enable the usage of the concept femicide with
new reviews.
7.2. What Should be Done Against Femicide is Countless and Profound
It is not enough to know the number in order to prevent the femicide. How much can women reach the
justice? Are the convict punished effectively? How is unjust provocation implemented? Does the AKP
government not want the woman killing stop? Can the government prevent femicide with praying and
religious leaders? Can we say that women’s lives are important upon hearing the sentence by İslam- the
minister of Family which states that “we do not have any information about woman killing?” Is it possible
to eliminate the problem through a mentality which gives much importance to the honour of neighborhood
(mahalle namusu). We have a great many questions. We need to find the solutions and answers of those
questions to prevent femicide.
It is required to provide at least two appropriate conditions in order to struggle against femicide. Within
the context of women’s human rights:
Grant of rights: women’s taking advantage of such legal rights as the right to liberty, education,
capital, health and possession
Usability of rights: Social awareness required for women to use their rights and provide favorable
economic conditions.
The suggestion of Gazioğlu (2013:89-100) should be taken into consideration. She has in the opinion
that “What is the first and most important step towards eliminating such murders is that the issue should be
handled publicly and dominant perspectives concealing the truth which states that those murders are
committed persistently without a specific time or place should be abandoned.”
Women institutions struggle hard against that oppression, discrimination and femicide. They will keep
on emphasizing the need for the governments in power to fulfill their responsibilities concerning İstanbul
Convention, an effective implementation of 6284 Law, shelters for women subjected to violence, temporary
financial support, counselling and consulting facilities, putting women under temporary protection, support
for nursery.
We as women are the potential victims of femicide and death. We all can be an Özgecan. In order not to
have more female deaths as FATMAs, KÜBRAs, SEÇIL MOTHERs, CANANs, HÜSNEs and
GÜLDÜNYAs;
We should meet and act together for growing stronger.
We struggle to understand and support each other. We make our solidarity grow stronger.
We organize at work, associations, schools, streets, parliament and NGOs.
We in order to live humanly demand to participate in the decisions concerning our lives.
We struggle for developing common strategies, woman policies and action plans through working
in women oriented organizations.
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We announce to the world that the government does not fulfill its responsibilities for struggle
against femicide.
We demand that crisis centers for sexual violence in every city should be opened.
We resist against human rights violations of LGBT individuals and LGBT killing.
We demand that public prosecution offices should be among the authorities to give the decisions.
We demand that A Specialization Commission about Femicide should be constituted and require
it to work together with woman organizations. Femicide is not a destiny. It should be prevented.
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Vilnius
... Women and girls are deprived of the right to life as a result of a wide range of gross violation of human rights through physical, emotional, political, mental and economic violence. Campbell in Kayir and Kalav (2015) in her article entitled "All women are at risk of femicide" opines a worrying and realistic fact that lives of women are not secured and guaranteed as many constitutions across the world prescribe. Thus, one would infer that the right to life for women and girls has not received the state's commitment that it deserves. ...
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Femicide is one of the most atrocious acts that are principal causes of premature deaths of women and girls who experience gender-based violence in South Africa. These violent acts that are mainly perpetrated by their male counterparts include inter alia, physical, emotional, psychological and economic violence. Constitutionally, everyone has the right to life, however; the mass killings of women in the hands of males, categorically implies clear inadequacies of the state apparatus to guarantee this valuable human right to women and girls in South Africa. Consulted literature reveals that little has been done in terms of scholarly interrogation of the right to life for women against the heinous femicide crimes committed with no regard for women's human rights in South Africa. Aim: to explore the deprivation of right to life of those who have fallen victims to the national crisis of femicide. Methodology: for the purpose of this article, the author adopted a qualitative research approach where a variety of non-empirical methods and techniques were employed. The methodological inclination entails a desktop analysis by a means of intensive literature study where information produced has been scholarly scrutinised through a process of intellectual analysis, categorisation, integration, reflection and synthesis where meanings were ascribed to the main themes of this article. Findings: It has been deduced that there are legislative shortcomings that need urgent lawmakers' attention in order to protect women's right to life. This implies that femicide law is vital to curb the spate of arbitrary killings of women and girls in South Africa. Additional measures to consider include school-curriculum pre-emptive programmes and community-based advocacy programmes to create a society that honours women's right to life.
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