Femicide and the Urgency for action
In the recent days, our news feeds have been filled with heartbreaking stories of women falling victim to the ultimate cost of violence—femicide. These incidents have sparked intense, heart wrenching and controversial reactions on social media, revealing a troubling pattern of victim-blaming and a profound need for societal introspection. Recognizing that no one deserves to be subjected to violence or lose their life due to their gender or relationship status is crucial in confronting the harsh reality of femicide, a form of violence that robs young girls and women of their lives prematurely.
Femicide, defined as the intentional killing of a woman or girl, in particular by a man and on account of her gender, is a worrying manifestation of deeper societal issues. These incidents have forced us to confront uncomfortable truths about gender inequality, toxic masculinity and the inadequate support systems in place for victims. Addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach that includes:
- Dispelling Myths and Misconceptions:
One unfortunate aspect of the discourse surrounding femicide is the persistence of negative inferences that do not and cannot justify any form of violence against women. Some of these, that need to be debunked include the notion that a woman’s behavior, clothing, or relationship choices make her deserving of violent actions against her. This narrow view has led to a lack of awareness and understanding of the widespread nature of GBV. We need to highlight that GBV is a pervasive issue that transcends cultural and economic boundaries, demanding a collective response. Therefore, dispelling these inferences, shifts our focus towards addressing the root causes of femicide and challenging societal issues, thus, steering away from blaming the victims themselves.
- The Role of Gender Norms:
In the context of recent cases, it is vital to recognize the contribution of toxic masculinity and gender norms to femicide. This means confronting the expectation that men should exert control and dominance in relationships, which can lead to power imbalances and violence against women. For instance, in the recent murder cases, reports of struggle and signs of chaos at the crime scenes indicate power imbalance and potential resistance from victims. Gender norms that normalize aggression and dominance may have contributed to the escalation of the situation, resulting in fatal consequences. Now more than ever, open discussions are needed to foster healthier dynamics that prioritize equality, respect for women and women rights and encouragement of symbiotic and respectful relationships.
- Legal Measures and Accountability:
Strengthening legal frameworks to protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable is essential. This includes ensuring robust laws against domestic violence, effective law enforcement, and the provision of adequate justice and support services for victims. Dissemination of provisions of such legal frameworks to all is essential in ensuring full implementation.
- Building Support Systems:
Creating a society free from femicide requires establishing comprehensive support systems for victims of domestic violence. This includes accessible and safe shelters, counseling services and psychosocial support, and resources to help individuals escape abusive situations. Communities and institutions must collaborate to create safe spaces for those at risk.
- Promoting Equality:
At the heart of combating femicide lies the need to promote equality. Education and awareness about consent, healthy relationships, and treating each other with dignity are crucial components of this effort. Deeply ingrained beliefs and biased behaviors such as the perception that men should be dominant and women submissive, the normalization of aggressive behavior as a display of strength, and the societal acceptance of gender-based violence as a private matter play a significant role in perpetuating violence and by challenging these beliefs, we pave the way for a culture rooted in mutual respect and the sanctity of human life.
- Media Responsibility:
The media plays a pivotal role in shaping public opinion. Responsible reporting on femicide cases, devoid of sensationalism, can contribute to a more informed and empathetic public discourse. By highlighting the broader societal issues at play, the media can catalyze positive change. Femicide is a constant reminder of the work that lies ahead in our collective journey towards a more just and equitable society that is free from violence. It necessitates a united front, where individuals, communities, and institutions collaborate to dismantle the structures that perpetuate violence against women. Create a world where no woman lives in fear simply because of her gender or relationship status requires, challenging societal norms and stereotypes, and fostering a culture of equality,
In our commitment to combating gender-based violence (GBV) in all its forms, Access to Medicines Platform is spearheading a groundbreaking project aimed at providing tangible outcomes in GBV prevention and elimination. This initiative seeks to establish supportive structures that ensure the effective implementation of policies, fostering a framework for change including access to justice for victims and survivors of GBV. Recognizing that eradicating gender based violence is a collective responsibility that requires both policy and community engagement, we call upon decision-makers, community leaders, policy- makers, women, men and society as a whole to join in our quest to eliminate SGBV. The time for change is now!