Women's Aid Femicide Watch
What is Femicide?
Femicide is broadly accepted to be the killing of women and girls by men. (WHO Femicide Factsheet, 2012) The Council of Europe uses the term Femicide to describe killings of women and girls because of their gender and as a result of inequality and discrimination – a root cause of all violence against women. (Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, 2011)
- A 2012 Global Study on Homicide reported that women murdered by their ex or current male partners made up the vast majority of domestic homicide victims worldwide which explains why in many countries women are more likely to be murdered in their home than elsewhere.13 Our report for Ireland mirrors these findings.
- The Global Study goes on to state that men, on the other hand, make up the vast majority of both victims and perpetrators of all types of crime including homicide, and are more like to be killed in the street.
- According to the Global Study on Homicide by the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (2013), women are much more likely to be killed by their intimate partners and family members.
- Moreover, while men are at higher risk from homicide generally (79% of victims and 95% of perpetrators), women are at much higher risk from family and intimate partner homicide.
- Two thirds of victims of intimate partner/family homicide worldwide are women and in Europe, partners or family members kill more than half of all femicide victims. In Ireland, this figure stands at 67%.
- A recent UK report found that 76% of separated women killed by their ex-partner or ex-spouse were killed within the first year that followed their separation and a third were killed within a month. (Femicide Census, Women's Aid & Karen Ingala Smith, 2017).
About the Women's Aid Femicide Watch Project
- 1996 was a bloody year for women in Ireland. In May 1996 Colm Kenna, Irish Times journalist, reported that at that point 8 women had been killed which was more than the total for the previous year. By the end 19 women had been killed, the majority of victims in their own homes and by someone known to them. The killing of women represented 45% of all murder cases that year.
- Women’s Aid had, at that stage, been working to protect women and children for just over two decades and we were deeply aware of the level of danger and risk to women’s safety. Our prevalence study, the first of its kind in Ireland, had been published the year previously and told us that one in five women were affected by domestic abuse.
- We knew that there was an urgent need to build understanding of how dangerous domestic violence could be.
- Domestic violence kills women. It kills children too and the types of abuse and behaviour that precedes intimate partner Femicide mirrors what we hear from women each day on our 24hr Helpline and in our one to one support services. When women call Women’s Aid and tell us they are afraid for their lives, we believe them. We know just how dangerous domestic abuse can be. Last year, seven women are believed to have died violently in the Republic of Ireland. Four women were killed in their own homes.
- Since we started monitoring Femicide in Ireland over 20 years ago, 225 women have had their lives stolen – an average of 10 women per year.
- For every woman whose life is taken so cruelly there are thousands of women like Eve across Ireland who are living on a knife’s edge of fear. In 2017, 21,451 contacts were made with Women’s Aid during which 19,385 disclosures of domestic violence against women and 3,552 disclosures of child abuse were made. Women and children are beaten, controlled and threatened by men in hundreds of thousands of homes across Ireland. The horrendous catalogue of abuse that women disclose to us is just the tip of the iceberg.
- As it stands, we know a current or former male intimate partner kills one in every two women murdered in Ireland. This cannot remain an accepted ‘fact of life’ for women.
- Internationally and in Ireland, the links between Femicide and domestic violence are well established and it is clear that a strategy to reduce Femicide should address domestic violence and other forms of violence against women.
- Today, Women’s Aid continues the difficult and sensitive work of trying to break the pattern of male violence against women in the hope to prevent further loss of life
Femicide in Ireland
The latest Women's Aid Femicide Watch 2018 (Republic of Ireland) states:
- 225 women have died violently between 1996-2018. 176 cases (78%) have been resolved. 9 cases (4%) are awaiting trial and 40 cases (18%)
- 16 children have died alongside their mothers.
- 137 women have been killed in their own homes (61%).
- Average of 10 women per year.
- 1 in every 2 femicide victims is killed by a current or former male intimate partner (56% of resolved cases).
- Women of any age can be victims of Femicide. However, women under the age of 35 make up 52% of cases in Ireland.
- In almost all murder-suicide cases (21 out of 22) the killer was the woman’s partner.
- In the 20 cases where a woman has been killed by a male relative, 16 were killed by their sons (80%).
Recommendations - Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs)
The Women's Aid Femicide Media Watch makes a number of recommendations for Government and the Media. However, one of the main focus areas is Domestic Homicide Reviews.
We recommend that:
- The State set up a Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) mechanism with a statutory basis, a multi-agency composition including specialist domestic violence services including family, informal community networks including friends and faith groups. These DHRs should
have powers to make and monitor recommendations to improve overall response to intimate partner violence.
- That risk assessment and management in relation to victims of domestic violence is introduced in the Republic of Ireland as soon as possible by relevant authorities such as An Garda Síochána, the HSE, Tusla and local authorities, in collaboration with specialist domestic violence services. It is important that all of these agencies work together and use a consistent and effective risk assessment model to ensure consistent and joined up responses.
- That any risk assessment and management system always includes children, especially during separation, and that research is carried out to identify specific risk factors for children.
For more on our recommendations, download the full report here.
Femicide, Domestic Violence and the Media
For 22 years, Women’s Aid has been monitoring female homicide as reported in the public domain through media reports and archives. Through this experience and expertise, we believe that the following can improve media reporting on intimate partner femicide. Positive and responsible reporting on domestic abuse and homicide can improve the public’s understanding, support those affected as they seek support and justice. While we believe further and more in depth research on this and the wider reporting of violence against women is needed, Women’s Aid recommendations include:
- That the Press Council in partnership with domestic violence experts and other stakeholders should agree guidelines on the reporting of domestic violence and femicide.
- Efforts should be made to report on the woman’s life and her loss not just the traumatic and graphic manner of her death.
- Women and their loved ones should be afforded dignity in the reporting of Femicide cases.
- Women killed should not be presented and their lives valued only by their relationship with their killer or their families.
- The victim’s voice is often lost in the reporting of the incident and of any subsequent court case. The story reported is usually the story the perpetrator presents in defence.
- The media should not be unduly sympathetic to the perpetrator nor report the story in any way which would seem to explain or present his actions as understandable or inevitable.
- The media should be careful not to victim blame in cases of femicide. Stereotypes and myths about domestic violence should be avoided.
- The media should understand that when reporting on a story involving the murder of women and in some cases their children they are approaching a family and a community in the midst of deep trauma. Media personnel must not add to or exacerbate that trauma in pursuit of the story. The privacy and dignity of families and communities should be respected at all times
For the full set of recommendations, download the report.
Reports and Inputs
Susanna Cawley and Chris Cawley, brother and sister of Celine Cawley (killed in 2008) join Margaret Martin and Norah Casey at the launch of the Women's Aid Femicide Watch 2018.
Over the last number of years, Women's Aid has invited a wide range national and international experts, domestic violence survivors, family members, politicians and commentators to address the link between domestic abuse and femicide, what we can learn from fatal domestic abuse to increase better risk identification and management, the impact of femicide on families, and the role of the State and its agencies in protecting women and children from harm.
You can download the report and most of the inputs below:
There is no greater violation of a woman’s human rights than the right to life itself. Our work allows us remember and reflect on those women killed by men. Women killed by current or ex boyfriends, partners or husbands, acquaintances, brothers, sons, neighbours and in some cases, strangers. Each woman murdered is an outrage. An absolute tragic loss of life resulting in utter heartache and trauma for her loved ones left behind.
Our Femicide Watch is dedicated to the women included in our Femicide Watch whose voices in court, police statements and newspaper reports are silenced as the perpetrators write the story of their deaths. Women’s Aid stands in solidarity with families, friends and communities of women murdered and with women currently living with abuse. We remember those women murdered but where no perpetrator has been charged and the other cases yet to come to trial. Our thoughts are with their families who are waiting for justice. We will continue this work to bring to light the extent and impact of men’s fatal violence against women in Irish society.