Femicide (Abstract only)

Silvie Haarmann (Ruhr-Univerität Bochum)

Relevance and theoretical foundations

Femicide as a form of continued large-scale and systematic violent crimes against women around the globe has long been falsely reduced to and dismissed as single, non-related, and arbitrary acts committed by individual perpetrators. Framed as “murders of honour” and downplaying the perpetrator’s culpability serve to further skewed narratives and imbalanced power dynamics. Framing all types of acts of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), including femicide as one of their most violent forms, only contributes to an understanding and acknowledgement of their structural interconnectedness that constitutes these acts as practices. Embedding the practice of femicide into social, political, and judicial structures and discourses on misogynistic patriarchal norms reveals their element of collective violence. Therefore, state impunity and institutional violence, such as a lack of responsibility and adequate responses to femicide equally form part of femicide (La Garde y de los Rios, 2008; European Institute for Gender Equality, 2020).

Manifestations of femicide include interrelational violence and murder, misogynistic slaughter of women due to their gender or sexual orientation, and the denial of such acts. Examples of denial include refutation by state representatives, as well as insufficient state response to femicide, such as inadequate criminal prosecution of perpetrators and unfair treatment of survivors in judicial proceedings. Perpetuated by society and the state, femicide becomes a neglected and therefore tolerated practice of violence and persists over time. This research project concentrates on interrelational femicide.


To analyse interrelational femicide, I will draw on a collection of reports that explain how the crime took place. This process will ensure that this paper depicts similarities and differences among cases of femicide. Analysis will especially pertain to underlying motives and values that perpetrators share. This research therefore works to better understand what characteristics link distinct acts of femicide, femicide’s historical development, and the premeditated nature that qualifies femicide as a practice of violence.

I will draw primarily from the German newspaper “Die Zeit” which tracked the 122 femicides in Germany in 2018. The objective of the newspaper’s research was to render visible each case, place greater attention on the victim, and exhibit the premeditated nature of femicide. Methodologically, this paper bases itself on the groundbreaking work of Reckwitz (2003) and Haasis et al (2015) on social practices and historic praxeology, as well as on Butler’s concept of doing gender (1990; 1993) in order first to determine what a practice is and second to discuss the gendered dimension. Applying femicide to the criteria of Reckwitz and Haasis at al., namely practice as informal and implicit social knowledge, historicity, materiality, processuality and dialectic between structure and practice, qualifies it as a practice of violence. The documentation allows for an in-depth analysis of how femicide is performed in a number of cases, and how it enters the realm of practice through repetition in society.


Butler, J., 1993. Bodies that Matter. On the discursive limits of ‘sex‘. New York: Routledge.

Butler, J., 1990. Gender Trouble. Feminism and the subversion of identity. London: Routledge.

European Institute for Gender Equality, 2020. Femicide. [online] Avalable at: <https://eige.europa.eu/thesaurus/terms/1128> [Accessed 20 March 2020].

Haasis, L. and Rieske, C., 2015. Historische Praxeologie. Zur Einführung. Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh.

Lagarde y de los Rios, M., 2008. Antropología, feminismo y política: Violencia feminicida y derechos humanos de las mujeres. In: M.L. Bullen and M.C. Díez Megui, eds. Retos Teóreticas Y Nuevas Prácticas. Donostia: Ankulegi Antropologia Elkartea. pp. 209-240.

Reckwitz, A., 2003. Grundelemente einer Theorie sozialer Praktiken: Eine sozialtheoretische Perspektive. Zeitschrift für Soziologie, 32(4), pp.282-301.