Femicides in the Caribbean

There is an alarming report coming from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which is drawing attention to a particular situation within countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The report speaks of the large number of women who are being killed for gender reasons.

Femicide is defined as a sexual/gender hate crime and relates to the killing of women. There are basically three separate interpretations of that word. One of the early pioneers of the term defines it as “the killing of females by males because they are females”. There are other feminists who place emphasis on the intention or purpose of the act being directed at females specifically because they are females. The third definition includes the killing of females by females.

There are some individuals who are of the opinion that there is no need to separate the murder of females from overall homicide. They are convinced that since more than 80 per cent of all murders are men, the term ‘femicide’ places too much emphasis on the less prevalent murder of females.

Be that as it may, we are persuaded to conclude that the killing of females because they are females is a bias, discriminatory and hate related crime.

On the eve of the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, ECLAC, through its Executive Secretary Alicia Barcena, has voiced concern about these occurrences. Barcena is calling on governments in the region to “improve their administrative records to find out the real number of ‘femicides’ and to foster adequately funded programmes for prevention and victim reparation”.

The reported official data, compiled by ECLAC’s Gender Equality Observatory for Latin America and the Caribbean, indicated that at least 1,678 women were murdered in 17 countries in the region for gender reasons.

Although it is not clear — since the report did not specify — exactly over what period of time these murders occurred. We maintain that one femicide is one too many. We can never condone the senseless killings of people especially because they belong to what is traditionally known as “the weaker sex”. Females, too, are members of our society and as such they deserve and reserve the rights to be treated equally. They are integral and constituent components of all societies as much as their male counterparts.

It would also be good to know how many of those femicides were committed with, before, or after the prevailing sexual acts of rape, kidnapping or breaking and entering for the commission of a crime that is sexual in nature.

In today’s societies, women have made serious contributions and are being recognised for the parts that they have played in the development of their countries. They have successfully penetrated even the most male dominated fields and endeavours. They are no longer being seen as merely persons whose place belongs in the kitchen, but can be found performing duties alongside their male equivalent. We have witnessed women rising to eminence; positions of rank of distinction and superiority in our world today. They are to be found as heads of governments and rulers of nations, ministers of governments and mothers who rock cradles and suckle their young. And all their achievements have been accomplished in spite of the discriminations that were directed at them.

Yet, despite the many strides and advancements, women, in this 21st century, are still exposed to Neanderthal and cave man-style treatment. The notion that women are the properties of the men that they accepted as their mates has often led to violence being perpetrated against them. There are so many cases where allegations of real or imagined infidelities on the part of women, that have led to bloodshed and other forms of physical violence. This type of double standard needs to be eradicated from society. We must come to the realisation that our women are as equal as our men.

Against the backdrops of all the accomplishments and advances made by women; to now think that it has become necessary for an inclusion of the commemoration of a day designated specifically for the elimination of violence against women indicates that we do have elements of our societies that are still antiquated and in need of enlightenment. To know that our failure to fully appreciate and accept women as essential members of our society has led to the coining of a new word; femicide is a blow and a slap in the face for all who have dedicated time, effort and resources towards ridding our societies of the mis-conception that women are only good for subservient treatments; to be used and abused according to the bequest of pre-historic principles and doctrines; bullied, battered, brutalised and even murdered all because they are women and they exist in a supposedly male dominated society.

Every conscious thinking person, both male and female, must rise up in support of the women of this planet earth, and aid in the removing of the discriminations and dangers that are faced by our women.

Let’s stamp out femicide.

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