07/11/2016 12:37 GMT | Updated 05/11/2017 05:12 GMT

Why We Should Use The Term "Femicide" Instead Of Gender-Neutral Terms, Such As "Murder" Or "Homicide"

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When you Google "femicide", multiple sources define it as "killings by intimate partners." But this definition doesn't cover the least of it.

In 1976, Diana E. H. Russell politicised the term, defining it as "the killing of females by males because they are females" calling them, "lethal hate crimes." Latin American feminists have adopted this term and use it so frequently, it is now in the constitutions of several countries. English-speaking feminists have yet to make it mainstream, which is why I am talking about it.

After hearing about the murder of Lucia Perez

--a 16-year-old Argentinian girl who was minding her own business when she was abducted outside of her school, drugged, and forcibly penetrated with objects (the cause of death was impalement by means of the rectum)--I hopped a plane to her homeland of Argentina to raise awareness about femicide in Latin America.

Lucia's death matters--and femicide is an international epidemic we can no longer turn a blind eye to.

Gender-neutral terms, such as "homicide" and "murder," systematically ignore targeted violence against women. Femicide should be seen as a separate category than homicide because it is a separate category. If women are being killed specifically because they're women, that matters. Motives matter.

Men who kill women may not be consciously thinking, "I want to kill this woman because she's a woman." The majority of men who kill women have a more ingrained lack of respect for female life--a deep-seated belief that men are stronger that women, that men are more powerful than women, that the life of a man is more important than that of a woman. These men see women as disposable.

It's also important to note that femicide doesn't always happen at the hands of men, as women kill other women in the name of "honour" killings or in the interest of men.

Here are the different types of femicide:

1. Intimate partner femicide: 38% of all murders of women globally are reportedly committed by an intimate partner, according to a recent study by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In comparison, only about 5% of all murders of men are committed by an intimate partner--in some cases, the woman acting in self-defense. WHO also adds that "The partner is seldom the sole victim in cases of intimate partner femicide. Others who might also be killed include the couple's children; unrelated bystanders; people perceived as the victim's allies by the perpetrator, such as lawyers, relatives, neighbours or friends; and the victim's new partner."

2. "Honour killings": The murder of women as punishment for transgressions, including, but not limited to: adultery, premarital sex, rape, insolence, or shaming the family name. 5,000 honor killings occur each year, taking place mainly in Southeast Asia and India, according to WHO, and is "embedded, culturally accepted discrimination against girls."

3. Dowry-related: The murder of newly married women by in-laws over conflicts related to dowry. For example, bringing insufficient dowry to the family.

4. Non-intimate-partner femicide: When strangers, friends, or family members target and kill women.

5. Rape femicide: The combination of sexual assault and the murder of women.

6. Female infanticide: The killing of babies assigned female at birth, common in certain parts of Asia.

7. Transfemicide The murder of transgender women.

8. Homophobic femicide: The killing of queer women, often involving "corrective rape."

9. Organised crime-related femicide: When gang or drug cartels target women.

10. War-related femicide: War crimes that target women in areas of conflict, particularly in Africa.

11. Serial femicide: The mass murder of women.

12. Racist femicide: Racially-motivated killing of women by men of a different race.

13. AIDS femicide: Intentional spreading of AIDS, resulting in the death of thousands of African women.

Femicide is an international epidemic that concerns every person on this planet--and addressing gender-motivated violence against women starts with recognising the fact that it is gender-motivated.


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Besos from Buenos Aires.