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Feminicides in Germany

Feminicides are murders of women and people who are read as female by the perpetrators. These murders happen because the perpetrators devalue and hate everything feminine.

"Rather, she also sees the state's complicity in the targeted killing of women."
The term feminicidio was coined by the Latin American feminist Marcela Lagarde more than 40 years ago. By adding the "ni" in the term femicidio, she wanted to emphasize that it is not the same as murder (homicidio (Spanish) / homicide (English)). Rather, she sees in the targeted killing of women also the complicity of the state.

In German, however, the term Femizid is often used. For the reasons mentioned above, however, this text continues to use the spelling feminicide. What many of the movements and activists in the fight against feminicide have in common is the will to combat this violence and make the violence visible that people experience in connection with their gender or sexual orientation. This violence can take many forms and is often grouped under the term gender-based violence


Usually, feminicides are the culmination of a long history of violence..."
Across the world, in rich and poor countries, in industrialized and emerging regions, a total of 50,000 women a year are killed by their current and former partners, fathers, brothers, and other family members in the context of their role and status as women.[1] Male perpetrators carried out about 90 percent of all homicides recorded worldwide. In Europe, authorities recorded over 3,000 feminicides in 2017 alone.[2]

Usually, feminicides are the culmination of a long-lasting history of violence that existed between the perpetrator and the victim. The reason for this violence is a striving by men for control over women and their bodies. This desire for male domination is characteristic of the patriarchal structures of our society. Behind it is the attempt of men themselves, but also of the state, to strengthen the dominant form of society and capitalist mode of production. This happens through the oppression of women, lesbians, inter, non-binary, trans and agender people (FlLINTA* for short). One means of doing this is by holding onto a traditional-stereotypical division of labor of wage and reproductive work by gender. The consequence is an unequal distribution of resources, power and participation in favor of men. This situation also leads to a lack of protection for FLINTA* against gender-based violence.

Feminicides in Germany: more than "every three days"

"And this despite the fact that the Istanbul Convention has been in force in Germany since 2018."
When searching for figures and data on feminicides, one repeatedly comes across the "A woman is killed every three days" statement. However, this does not reflect the actual number of feminicides, because these statistics do not list killings by unknown perpetrators or family members."[3]

Furthermore, the current police crime statistics (PCS) do not record missing and seriously injured women. Nor do these statistics include women who commit suicide as a result of ongoing violence.[4] Feminicidal suicide describes the suicide of a woman as a result of gender-specific violence. Also not included are feminicides of trans women and non-binary individuals.[5]

This underscores how scarce the data on feminicides and other forms of violence against FLINTA* is. This is despite the fact that the Istanbul Convention has been in force in Germany since 2018. This international human rights convention includes a variety of regulations and measures against gender-based violence.[6] This also includes the obligation of the federal government to collect precisely disaggregated statistical data on forms of violencen.[7]

Sexism and Racism in the Media

"Media coverage differs by attributed origin of the perpetrator..."
Article 11 of the Istanbul Convention also describes that the state and the media should establish regulations to prevent violence against women and to preserve their dignity. In the media in Germany, however, there are often reports about violence against women that are euphemistic and do not name the causes of patriarchal violence.

Media coverage differs according to the attributed origin of the perpetrator: If he is read as German, he is portrayed as a desperate lone perpetrator. If a man who is read by the authors as "migrant" commits a feminicide, the act is instrumentalized for racist and right-wing politics. Also, some media reports suggest that feminicides happen more often in migrant sections of society. Violence against women, however, is not a question of social origin or education level.[8]

But the questions that the media, society and politics should be asking themselves much more are:

  • What do victims of gender-based violence need to escape dangerous relationships and shape their lives in a self-determined way?
  • What political measures are needed to ensure this?


What activists demand from politics

"Since the year 2016 [...] No-Means-No is also valid [...]"
Since the 1990s, there have been several new laws in favor of women affected by violence who turn to authorities. These include the law that has made marital rape a punishable offense since 1997. Since 2016, there is also the so-called "rape paragraph" No-means-No, which makes non-consensual sexual acts punishable.[9]

At the same time, many measures against gender-based violence remain incomplete.[10] In the case of the Violence Protection Act, for example, it often happens that competent authorities such as the youth welfare office, the family court and the criminal court do not cooperate in order to conduct high-risk case analyses of the perpetrator. [11] In addition, especially migrated and refugee women are often denied access to help structures due to existing asylum and right of abode issues, lack of language mediation or racism in the authorities.[12] [13] For example, if a woman receives her protection status dependent on her husband due to family reunification, it is difficult for her to seek help. This is because the decision to take action against the perpetrator and, for example, to press charges, can jeopardize her residence status.


Gender-based violence and migration

"Globally, more than half of refugees are women."
Worldwide, more than half of the refugees are women. Gender-based violence as well as feminicide, but also forced marriage, sexualized violence, forced mutilation or educational prohibitions are part of the cause of flight as well as the flight experience itself. According to UNHCR, these gender-based forms of violence are considered grounds for persecution. [14]

Recent examples include the ban on education for women in Afghanistan since the Taliban took power, upto murders of women in Latin America that sparked the #NiUnaMenos protests. And these are just a few forms of violence that women face in different places.

However, proving gender-based violence is difficult because it often happens in private spaces where the state holds victims accountable. Grounds for gender-based persecution only arise when the state fails to fulfill its responsibility to protect women.

In theory, then, this form of violence is recognized as grounds for flight, but in practice there is a lack of state support and sensitivity to the issue. This is because, as the "ni" in the term feminicide suggests, there is also a structural level behind gender-based violence. This includes, for example, that this violence is made possible or encouraged by the state, as it is also evident in the gaps in state measures.

Thus, it is also state responsibility that is at stake in feminicides and gender-based violence, which on the one hand motivates women to migrate, but on the other hand also makes their lives more difficult in their mobility, on the way as well as in the country of arrival.

"This pressure pushes changes in society and in the state."
The fact that gender-based violence and especially feminicides in Germany are being named more and more by the media and politics is due to the ongoing pressure of many internationalist movements of FLINTA* worldwide. Feminists in Germany are also drawing attention to the abuses in Germany through public actions, campaigns and petitions. This pressure pushes changes in society and the state. And with success: Germany's largest news agency, dpa, renounces trivializing terms for feminicides due to an open letter from 'Gender Equality'.

The Network Against Feminicides inaugurated the Resistance Square in Berlin at the end of 2020 to appeal to the public with rallies and various events. Every time there is a feminicide in Berlin, activists gather there and formulate their demands. These include the demand for comprehensive prevention of gender-based violence with the participation of civil society. In addition, the network fights for the recognition of gender-based violence as a reason for flight and advocates for an unconditional residence permit.

Join the fight against feminicide and strengthen the rights of all FLINTA in Germany and worldwide!


Use and Share!

A contribution by Lisa Rechenberg and Rebecca Gotthilf.

This text is published under the Creative Commons Lizenz CC BY-NC-ND 4.0  (external link, opens in a new window) and is allowed to be used and shared.


The Pictures

Ancestra | Guía de recursos digitales para mujeres rurales +… | Flickr (external link, opens in a new window) by Colores Mari | Flickr (external link, opens in a new window) (CC02 Lizenz (external link, opens in a new window))

Unser Feminismus ist antirassistisch – Reclaim feminism | Flickr (external link, opens in a new window) by | Flickr (external link, opens in a new window) (CC02 Lizenz (external link, opens in a new window))

¡Ni Una Menos! // Buenos Aires 2016 | El grito fue de dolor,… | Flickr (external link, opens in a new window) by Colores Mari | Flickr (external link, opens in a new window) (CC02 Lizenz (external link, opens in a new window))


Footnotes and further sources

[1] UNDOC: Global Study on Homicide 2019. Booklet 5: Gender-related killing of women and girls, S. 54.

[2] Ebd. S. 10.

[3] Keine Mehr (2020): S.18.

[4] Vgl. Pabst, S., Neumann, E. (2021): Der Tod von Kasia Lenhardt – ein feminizidaler Suizid? Die Freiheitsliebe. Abgerufen unter [18.05.2022]

[5] Polizeiliche Kriminalstatistik - Täter-Opfer-Tatverdächtigen-Beziehung (2020).

[6] (external link, opens in a new window)Übereinkommen des Europarats zur Verhütung und Bekämpfung von Gewalt gegen Frauen und häuslicher Gewalt (external link, opens in a new window)

[7] Ebd. Art 11, S. 8.

[8] Führer, S. (2021): Femizide in Deutschland. Getötet, weil sie Frauen sind. Deutschlandfunk Kultur. (external link, opens in a new window)

[9] Bundestag entscheidet „Nein heißt nein“. (external link, opens in a new window)

[10]BIG e.V. (Hg): 10 Jahre Gewaltschutzgesetz (2012). (external link, opens in a new window)

[11] Lehnert, B, Gerberding, C. (2020): Gewalt gegen Frauen: Jeden dritten Tag geschieht ein Femizid. NDR–Kultur. (external link, opens in a new window)

[12] Even though we criticize the lack of cooperation between the authorities, we do not think that it is enough to conduct anti-racism trainings in the authorities or that better cooperation between the authorities will attack the problem at its roots: As part of the executive branch, the police is responsible for protecting and enforcing the existing social order together with its capitalist property relations and mode of production, this also by using violence. The capitalist mode of production needs various mechanisms of oppression to exist: e.g. racism, gender violence, Ableism and many more. For more information we can recommend e.g. the podcast series "Security for whom?!".

[13] Kali Feminists (2019): Gerechtigkeit für Hanna – Podiumsdiskussion zur aktuellen Situation von Feminiziden. (external link, opens in a new window)

[14] Fluchtursache Geschlecht | Brot für die Welt (external link, opens in a new window)


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