Alarming statistics of feminicides in the European Union: the truth unveiled
Femicides in Europe: Latvia boasts a sad record, in Spain a special regulation has been implemented.
In the European Union, it is complicated to standardize data on the number of femicides. This is because not all countries classify crimes by gender in the same way and sometimes make distinctions between homicides that occur within the family sphere or under different circumstances.
For example, in the Penal Code, only Cyprus classifies the crime as femicide and not simply homicide. In addition, updated statistics are not always available, which means that the known figure of 3,232 cases of women murdered between 2010 and 2021 does not reflect the situation in eight Member States: Poland, Bulgaria, Ireland, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Romania. This differs from the figure of 6,593 homicides committed by family members, partners, and ex-partners, according to Eurostat.
The situation, beyond the numbers, is not encouraging. Despite the high absolute number of cases in Italy, the country ranks second to last in the classification weighted by the percentage of women killed in relation to the total. Latvia tops this list, with 2.14 femicides per 100,000 women in 2020, a figure that increases to 4.09 if those perpetrated outside the family sphere are included.
Lithuania and Estonia follow, with 22 and 41 cases respectively, in populations of fewer than 2 million inhabitants, which is significant. Greece has the lowest rate (0.16), closely followed by Sweden, Italy, and Spain, all with 0.38, below the European average of 0.68. Italy also ranks well in the overall homicide rate by population, with 0.48, surpassing only Luxembourg (0.32), but still far from the European Union’s 0.89.
In absolute terms, Germany holds the sad record, with 225 women killed in 2020. In Italy, in 2022, there were 125 femicides out of a total of 319 homicides, meaning that the murdered women represent approximately 39% of the total, reaching 91% if victims of partners or ex-partners are considered.
How do different countries behave from a legislative point of view? According to magistrate Valerio de Gioia, a counselor at the Court of Appeals and active in the field of gender-based violence, European states are aligned in legislation thanks to international obligations derived from the Istanbul Convention. However, the expected results have not yet been achieved, especially regarding violence or mistreatment, which often occur within homes.
Spain is the only country with comprehensive legislation on gender-based violence, approved in 2004 under the Zapatero government. De Gioia hopes that this model will be adopted by other countries, such as Italy with its proposed Roccella Law, which will soon be voted on in Parliament. This is considered an essential and necessary step to protect women from violence, both physical and economic.