Domestic violence has been documented for a long time now. “Femicide” however wasn’t even coined until 1976 when writer Diane Russel used it at a convention in Belgium. Femicide by definition goes beyond crimes committed by former or current partners. It takes into mind violence against women conducted by any male that ends in death such as rape, honor killings, and any crime where the gender of the victim was a factor. Most of the time these kinds of crimes don’t even make it to police records in a way that properly denotes them. However, Karen Ingala Smith is working to change that–name by name.
Smith, also in a place of power as the chief executive of the British anti-violence organization NIA, has been tallying up tragic accounts on her blog, Counting Dead Women. As bleak as the title sounds, it is the closest thing the U.K. has to official records of these women’s deaths. In fact, Smith was approached by a group of lawyers looking to prevent violence against women because her records were the only one’s they could find of sound value. Those records state that within the last three years males have murdered 418 women.
This year, thanks to the collaboration of Women’s Aid and the support of Deloitte LLP, the first Femicide Census has been launched. Currently the census is only tracking deaths that occur in the U.K. but other countries have had their interests peeked. In Turkey enraged citizens have taken to the streets demanding change after a rape that resulted in Ozgecan Aslan being burned to death. Here in the U.S. “femicide” is replaced with “female homicide” or “murder.” In 2007, 67 percent of female murders were caused by domestic violence. The Violence Policy Center keeps an exact number that focuses beyond domestic violence, saying that “1,706 American women were killed by men…domestic disputes or not.”
Although progress is happening resulting in the prosecution of more offenders, Smith says: “We need to realize it’s a much bigger societal problem and more ingrained in the core of our culture.”
images c/0 TIME, Counting Dead Women