Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Feminicide across Europe: Iceland

Femicide as a concept has hardly gained any ground in Iceland. The term has only recently come into public use by the Icelandic members of the COST project on femicide.  
9.1 Sources 
Data on femicide as such is not collected in Iceland. However, three databases with information on murders provide the possibility to generate data on femicide in Iceland.  
a) Police data. The Police keep a closed data base on all crimes, including murders. This database can be consulted on request, i.e. access is limited, except for specific research use.  
b) Open source data. On Icelandic Wikipedia, a list of murders going back centuries in time can be accessed. According to verbal information, the list was created and is maintained by a lawyer. However, not all murder cases, including cases of femicide, appear on that list and the term femicide is not used. 
c) A closed database, called “Fons juries” exists (http://fonsjuris.is/about.php), which is not public, but private. People are required to pay for access to data in this database. The database includes all verdicts from 1999, which have taken place in Iceland. All the cases of femicide can be retrieved from that database, according to a legal definition of a murder in the General Criminal Law [Almenn hegningarlög] nr. 19/1940 (paragraph 211) and severe physical assault (paragraph 218), which might include assaults that result in death. This database does not include cases dismissed for lack of evidence, although there is a suspicion that a murder or femicide has occurred. Those kinds of cases are not included in the verdicts. 

9.2 Definition 
In reliable sources, femicide is best defined as the killing of a woman by an intimate partner. Partner is defined in a broad way, to include the husband, living and dating partner, lover; former husband, former partner and former lovers are also included in the definition. The expression "family femicide" is also used to indicate killing by a relative, such as a father, son, or other. 

 (by Freidis Freysteinsdottir and Halldora Gunnarsdottir)

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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