Saturday, September 15, 2018

Feminicide across Europe: Israel



The notion of “femicide”, as such, is practically absent from Israel. In recent years, though, awareness to  “the murder of women” or “women murder” by their (normally) male family members is well evident in public discourse. Overall, the media plays a key role in Israel in disseminating the notion of “women murder” as a social phenomenon, which should be condemned. In addition, Israeli academics are among the leader scholars in the field of femicide. Nowadays, it is widely accepted that the murder of women by their family members warrants special attention. 

1 Sources 
Up until the last 5 years, apart from sporadic media-initiated projects, no data collection of femicide was available in Israel. The parliamentary Committee on Women’s Rights initiated, 5 years ago, a special report on violence against women, whereby femicide is supposed to be reported annually (https://www.knesset.gov.il/mmm/data/pdf/m03643.pdf). Despite being highly accessible to the public, this report was subject to meager dissemination efforts outside Israeli Parliament. After 2015, there was no systematic and formal data on femicide in Israel, just a statement by the Israeli Parliament with statistics that they said were gathered from the police (https://www.knesset.gov.il/mmm/data/pdf/m03849.pdf), but in fact differed from what the police reported.  
In addition, the Israeli Ministry of Internal Security, in its annual report on violence, now features a specific and distinct section on women victims of murder. However, no special attention is dedicated to the reasons for having these women murdered, and the report is laconic and de-contextualized on the topic. Another example for this disregard is shown in the Israeli police’s official Violence Report of 201 4 . d definitions for murder, noneThe report introduces no less than nine(!) different types an of which relates specifically to the murder of women.     

2 Definition 
The criminal code assigns no specific clause to femicide, and femicide murderers are charged with the general murder offence. In other reliable sources, femicide is mainly associated with the killing of a woman by an intimate partner, broadly defined. Highly prevalent as well is the expression "family honor killing", which is used to indicate killing by a relative, in non-Jewish communities in Israel, under a claim that a woman has manifested no respect to her family by being promiscuous. This type of femicide is perceived as a category of its own and is ultimately associated with killing a woman “due to her gender”, a characterization not easily assigned to other forms of femicide.  
  (by Yifat Bitton and Shalva Weil) 



In order to fight feminicide/femicide, various Latin American and European countries have adopted increasingly specific laws and legal instruments that penalize feminicide. The ratification of the Belém do Pará Convention1 in Latin America and the entry into force of the Istanbul Convention2  in Europe, demonstrate an increasingly stronger international commitment against this kind of violence. The establishment of the Bi-regional Dialogue on Gender by the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), as well as the adoption of the Urgent Resolution on Feminicide in the European Union and Latin America3 by the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EuroLat) also express this commitment.    


However, legal norms, agreements, and international dialogues alone are not sufficient for the eradication of violence against women, nor its most extreme manifestation, feminicide.


Traditionally, States were only responsible for their own actions or those of their agents, but international public law has evolved and currently, the principle of due diligence makes the State responsible for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of violence, regardless of who commits the crime. The duty of due diligence obliges States to enter the private sphere, where historically, they have not intervened, but where the majority of cases of violence against women occur. 



Therefore, it is the duty of the State to take all necessary measures to prevent human rights violations, such as feminicide, before they occur. This means, on the one hand, adopting pertinent laws and policies to prevent, investigate, prosecute, and punish those guilty of abuse, and on the other hand, successfully implement them. 


Patricia Jiménez, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung – European Union, Brussels


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