Femicide Occurs Because Perpetrators Feel Superior and Misogyny Against Women

In Indonesia, the number of gender-based killings of women or femicide increases every year. Femicide is driven by feelings of superiority, dominance, or misogyny toward women.

Siti Aminah Tardi, Komnas Perempuan commissioner, once wrote on Konde.co, that throughout 2020 there were 97 cases of murder against women or femicide.

This femicide is carried out with the biggest triggers being male partners who are jealous, offended by reasons of masculinity, refusing to have sex, and are urged to take responsibility for pregnancy.

In addition, the triggers for femicide also come from domestic conflicts, such as polygamy, refusing to divorce, asking for a divorce or separation, because of material needs, the traditional role of women, and family honor.

Femicide: How Urgent?

The issue of femicide has become a world concern because of its nature as a manifestation of discrimination against women. The UN Special Rapporteur (2016) defines femicide as:

“The killing of women because of their sex and/or gender. It constitutes the most extreme form of violence against women and the most violent manifestation of discrimination against women and their inequality.“

One form of femicide is spousal homicide, either a husband or an intimate partner. This is evidenced by the Global Study on Homicide conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which found that 87,000 women were killed in 2017.

More than half (58%), or around 50,000, were killed by intimate partners or family members, and more than a third, or 30,000 women, were killed by an intimate partner or exes.

Defining Femicide

Femicide is defined as intentional killing of a woman because of their sex or gender. The commonly known drive of femicide are feelings of superiority, domination, or misogyny towards women, a sense of ownership of women, power inequality, and sadistic satisfaction.

Seeing a large number of cases of violence against women, many of them lead to the killing of women or what is known as femicide.

Diana Russel (1976) was first introduced the term femicide at the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women. At that time, femicide was defined as the killing of women by men (tribunnews.com, 07/03/2022).

Komnas Perempuan, in a press release entitled “Femicide: Demands for Law and Policy Reform in Responding to Threats” in 2020, defines femicide as the killing of women driven by hatred, revenge, conquest, domination, enjoyment, and views of women as property so that they are allowed to do as they please.

Therefore, femicidal is different from ordinary murder because it contains aspects of gender inequality, domination, aggression, or oppression. Femicide is not death in general but a product of patriarchal and misogynistic culture and occurs both in the private sphere, community, and state (Komnas Perempuan, 2020).

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Based on Komnas Perempuan’s monitoring of online media news throughout 2019 regarding femicide, there were 145 cases of murder against women that fell into the category of femicide.

However, this number is limited to instances of femicide cases covered by the mass media and does not include those that were not reported.

The top five ratings for the relationship between perpetrators and victims include husbands (48 cases), which shows that most femicide is committed by husbands against wives. Furthermore, friendship relations (19 cases), dating relationships (13 cases), close relatives (7 cases), and unknown (21 cases).

These data show that the relationship between perpetrators and victims is mainly in the area of personal relations (Komnas Perempuan, 2020).

Need State Attention

Seeing the many cases of femicide in Indonesia, it is only fitting that this becomes a severe concern for the government. This paper tries to provide some suggestions for steps that the government needs to take.

First, make disaggregated data related to cases of murder of women. The aim is that femicide is not seen as the same as murder in general. In addition, this disaggregated data also serves as a benchmark for femicide cases that have occurred in Indonesia.

Second, the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (KPPPA) needs to form a special  unit related to femicide cases in Indonesia. The main task and function of the specific unit are to monitor developments in femicide cases in Indonesia.

Furthermore, this special unit can provide input regarding things that need to be done to overcome femicide problems in Indonesia. The presence of a particular femicide unit is a sign that the government is seriously handling femicide cases in Indonesia.

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Third, integrate femicide as a gender-based deprivation of life crime in the draft Criminal Code Bill (RUU KUHP). The House of Representatives of the Republic of Indonesia (DPR RI) is discussing the Criminal Code Bill.

There are updates in the Criminal Code Bill relating to murder, including article 462 paragraph (2), which reads, “If the crime referred to in paragraph (1) is committed against a mother, father, wife, husband or child, the crime can be added 1/3 (one third)” and article 245 which reads “Any person who commits deprivation of life, maltreatment, rape, obscene acts, theft with violence, or deprivation of liberty based on racial and ethnic discrimination, the punishment shall be increased by 1/3 (one third).”

Amendments to article 462, paragraph (2) show an additional sentence for the perpetrators of the murder against a father, mother, wife, husband, or child.

Even though the femicide cases show that most perpetrators and victims have family ties, it does not mean that it cannot happen to women who do not have any family ties. Therefore, it is essential to add a point about additional punishments related to the murder of women.

In addition, Article 245 adds penalties for perpetrators of murder based on racial and ethnic discrimination. For this reason, it is necessary to add the word gender to Article 245 as an additional form of punishment for femicide perpetrators.

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Cases of violence against women in Indonesia are a social phenomenon that is increasing from year to year.

Based on the Annual Records of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Catahu Komnas Perempuan) for 2022, gender-based violence (KBG) against women has increased significantly to 459,094 cases from the previous year of 226,062 cases (Komnas Perempuan, 2022).

Still based on the 2022 Komnas Perempuan Catahu, KBG against women is divided into three domains. First, the personal sphere, which is violence experienced by women in the private sphere with perpetrators who have blood relations, kinship, marriage, or intimate relations with victims.

Cases of violence against women in the personal sphere, such as violence against wives, violence by ex-husbands, violence in dating, violence by ex-boyfriends, violence against girls, violence against domestic workers, and violence by other actors in personal relations within the household.

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According to Komnas Perempuan’s 2022 Catahu, violence in the personal sphere is the most common, reaching 335,399 cases (99.09%).

Second, the public sphere, which is violence women experienced in public spaces, such as online media, at home, in public places, in educational settings, at work, and in medical facilities. Based on the 2022 Komnas Perempuan Catahu, violence in the public sphere occurred in 3,045 cases (0.9%).

Third, the state sphere, which is violence perpetrated by state apparatus in connection with fulfilling the state’s obligations to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, including women’s human rights.

Violence by the state as the power holder  is an abuse of public authority reflected in various acts of coercion, repression, arbitrary arrests, and kidnappings, intermingled due to the rule of national security in situations of conflict and riots.

Based on the 2022 Komnas Perempuan Catahu, violence in the state sphere occurred in 52 cases (0.01%).

Basically, it is important for the state to pay serious attention to cases of femicide that continue to increase yearly in Indonesia. Therefore, the public needs to continue to remind the state to take a stand to overcome this problem.

(Translated by Marina Nasution)

Ahmad Hidayah

Peneliti Bidang Politik The Indonesian Institute, Center for Public Policy Research (TII)
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