Posts Tagged ‘ B&WChallenge ’


Definitions of femicide

Female homicide (or femicide): the unlawful and intentional causing of a death of a female.
Intimate femicide: the intentional killing of a woman by an intimate partner (husband, boyfriend, cohabiting partner, same-sex partner (current or ex), or a rejected would-be lover, as well as perpetrators from incestuous relationships.
Non-intimate femicide: the intentional killing of a woman by someone other than an intimate partner.

This word has been in the limelight most recently because of the murders of women in Turkey however this term has also been applied to other places like Mexico and Azerbaijan. It is actually a global phenomenon and it is predicted to be at an all-time high this year due to the quarantine situation.

How is femicide linked to the black and white picture challenge online?

The Guardian reports that in 2019, 474 women were murdered, mostly by partners and relatives in Turkey. This is the highest rate in a decade in which the numbers have increased year on year.  Very recently, the country was rocked by the brutal killing of Pınar Gültekin, a 27-year-old student, who was allegedly killed by an ex-boyfriend.

The B&W picture challenge was to encourage people to post their pictures to emphasize how pictures of murdered women end up in black and white in the pages of newspapers. Most people who did this were not aware of the reason behind it. Prominent celebrities like Chef Nigella Lawson and Comedian Miranda Hart issued apologies for posting pictures without knowing the reason. I myself am also guilty of doing this.

What are the demands of the people protesting femicide in Turkey?

Turkey was the first country to adopt a 2011 Council of Europe convention on gender-based violence and domestic violence, a legal framework designed to protect victims and prosecute offenders, known as the Istanbul Convention. The protesters think that it is one of the primary laws keeping women safe in the country even though the Turkish Government is looking to do away with it saying it promotes immorality and breaks up the traditional family system.

What about femicide in Pakistan?

Pakistan ranks as the sixth most dangerous country in the world for women, with cases of sexual crimes and domestic violence recording a rapid rise. According to statistics collected by White Ribbon Pakistan, an NGO working for women’s rights, 4,734 women faced sexual violence between 2004 and 2016. Over 15,000 cases of honour crimes were registered.

Patriarchy is the core reason behind these high statistics of abuse and other acts of violence against women in Pakistan. There are not however enough initiatives being created to address this primary cause of femicide locally.

The WHO report also blamed “unequal power of women relative to men” and the “normative use of violence to resolve conflict”.

What is patriarchy you ask?

In the context of our discussion, it would be defined as, ‘a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.’

There are simply not enough women at the table when women’s rights and protections are being legislated. The system is by the males and for the males and they enjoy rights and privileges that women simply do not. While we do see things improving slowly and gradually, drastic measures need to be taken to reduce if not crush gender inequality in Pakistan.

This gender inequality is reflected in all spheres of life from the moment a girl is born to the time that she dies. It is apparent in all the opportunities she is denied and her male siblings are provided. It is taken from her in the form of the best piece of meat in the food, her education, her property and even her ability to earn an income to support herself.

Let’s come back and focus on femicide.

“Many of the victims of ‘femicide’ are killed by their current and former partners, but they are also killed by fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters and other family members because of their role and status as women,” said the UNODC. These killings, it added, do “not usually result from random or spontaneous acts, but rather from the culmination of prior gender-based violence. Jealousy and fear of abandonment are among the motives.”

In Pakistan these types of killings are usually terms ‘Honour Killings’ even though it can be argued that there is no honour associated with killing anyone.

If most of the femicides committed again women are by their partners why don’t they just leave?

This is a question that is often asked when a femicide news report comes up and people wonder why the victim stayed with an abusive spouse or partner. The answers to this question are often simple and quite horrifying.

  • Most of these women have no safe place to leave and escape to.
    • In most cases even their own parents are not willing to take them back if they decide to leave their partner.
  • Leaving can drastically increase their chances of being killed as opposed to staying with the partner.
    • It can often be a former partner or a rejected one that can kill or throw acid at a female he felt rejected or abandoned by.
  • As mentioned earlier it is not always a partner but can also be immediate family members who are a threat to her life.

 What can we do about it?

The first thing we can do about it is educate ourselves about the issue and accept that there is one. Then we can pass on that information to others and educate them about it as well. If you are a blogger or influencer then write about it or talk about it on whatever platforms you have access to.

If you know anyone who is in a problematic situation reach out to them but remember, never ask a victim why she doesn’t just leave, especially not after knowing the information you know now.

If you decide to help her leave the situation, make sure you provide her all the support she needs, like an alternative place where she will be safe.

Keep an eye out for the signs of abuse such as controlling behaviour, violence or threats of violence.

Seeing the surge in domestic violence cases the world over even Pakistan has introduced a helpline. The helpline is operational from 10 am to 10 pm all through the week. The toll-free helpline is 1099 for landline calls and 0333-9085709 on Whatsapp for both calls and texts. It’s effectiveness is questionable as most women are afraid to reach out and ask for help however it was much needed. We can only hope that over time it will prove to be valuable if even one life is saved.

Here are some ways to help a loved one who is being abused:

  • Setup a time to talk.
  • Let her know you’re concerned about her safety.
  • Be supportive.
  • Offer specific help.
  • Don’t place shame, blame or guilt on her.
  • Help her make a safety plan.
  • Encourage her to talk to someone who can help.
  • If she decides to stay, continue to be supportive.
  • Encourage her to do things outside of the relationship.
  • If she decides to leave, continue to offer help.
  • Let her know that you will always be there no matter what.

Honour Killings

Sources of Information:

Femicide: A global scourge