Women worldwide fight femicide

March 16, 2024

by Terry Moon

In a word, no matter who the specific revolutionary force turns out to be . . . the whole truth is in the dual rhythm of any revolution: the overthrow of the old society and the creation of new human relations. It requires the spelling out of the dialectic in its totality with every individual subject.

–Raya Dunayevskaya
Marxism and Freedom

Femicide—the murder of a woman because she is a woman—is on the rise across the world. We know about this, not only because of occasional articles in newspapers or on the web, but more importantly, because there have been worldwide demonstrations against it. That is why there are those articles. Furthermore, we know of these murders because women made a category out of them after Diana Russell popularized the term in 1976 at the first International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women in Belgium.

The rising flood of femicides can’t be separated from the tidal wave of fascists now ruling countries like Somalia, Italy, India, Iran, Argentina, Turkey, the U.S. under Trump, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Russia, Hungary, etc. Women’s subordination is a fascist/white nationalist belief and goal. To illustrate the point, let’s begin with Turkey.


In one day in February in cities across Turkey seven women were murdered by male partners or ex-partners. The oldest woman was 49, the youngest 32, and all had been shot or stabbed to death. Last year, 315 women had been killed in Turkey, most in their homes. Furthermore, the practice of throwing women out of windows is rising, allowing their murderers to claim that their victims died by suicide. This slaughter of women can partly be laid at the feet of Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

We Will Stop Femicide, Turkey’s largest women’s rights group

In March 2021, Erdoğan pulled Turkey out of the Istanbul Convention—the international treaty on preventing violence against women. That violence has soared under his regime. In April 2022 his public prosecutors demanded that We Will Stop Femicide (WWSF), Turkey’s largest women’s rights group, be disbanded for “activity against law and morals.” When he’s not destroying women’s organizations, every International Women’s Day he sends out his police to beat protesting women and shoot them with rubber bullets. WWSF reports that: “In 15 years, the only year when the number of femicides decreased was in 2011, the year which the Istanbul Convention was adopted.” His pettiness is revealed in how his regime even denies women in Turkey’s prisons—including many feminist activists—access to tampons.

  • In Kenya, as of the middle of February, there had been 16 reported cases of femicide in 2024, and—as in every country—more that have not been reported and don’t show up on any official statistics. In almost every case there have been militant demonstrations to raise awareness and demand real change. In Kenya, women called their Feb. 15 demonstrations that were held in towns throughout the country, “Dark Valentine.” As a student participant explained: “Love is not something that should put you at risk for death. So if we can’t have a healthy kind of love, what’s there to celebrate about?”
  • In Somalia, three women were murdered by their husbands in one week. Not surprisingly, two were pregnant. Despite the fact that war, violence and death are now rife in Somalia, days of protests followed. In Mogadishu, demonstrators’ signs showed photos of Lul Abdi Aziz Jazirain, who had been set on fire by her husband and died in agony after seven days; another woman’s body was dismembered; another had been shot. The chair of the Somali Women Development Center said: “Women are expected to be silent in Somalia. We are going to continue to make noise until there is a change.”
  • Again, tragically unsurprisingly, a new study shows that in the U.S. “pregnant women who live in states that restrict abortion are more likely to experience intimate partner homicide… [T]he risk…is higher for young women under the age of 30, Black women, and women with lower education levels….Pregnant or recently pregnant women faced a 14% higher risk of homicide by an intimate partner compared to non-pregnant women.” But in states limiting abortion access, women in these situations “experienced a 76% increase” in homicide rates! And these statistics were compiled before Roe v Wade was overturned! Not all of this is new. The biggest cause of death for pregnant women in the U.S. for decades has been murder. When talking about bringing down women’s maternal mortality rate, this is rarely mentioned. These women are included in the national slaughter in the U.S. where three women are killed by intimate partners every day and Black women suffer a rate 79% higher than non-Black women.
  • Over 300 women dressed in black demonstrated in Tegucigalpa at the National Congress of Honduras on Honduran Women’s Day, Jan. 25. They were protesting an increase in femicides. A woman a day was murdered in the first 16 days of 2024. Protesters jumped over barriers around the Congress building to protest the recent murders as well as the 380 known femicides in 2023. An activist, her face covered with a black scarf, said to the crowd: “We come to demand that the lives of Honduran women be respected. That’s why we come to this National Congress.” Sandra Deras, another protester, said: “We are marching today against all violence, from domestic violence to femicide. We demand the approval of the Comprehensive Law Against Violence that the president promised. We can’t wait!”


  • In Italy, the murder of a 22-year-old biomedical engineering student, Giulia Cecchettin, was the femicide—among 90 in the first 18 days of 2024—that brought thousands to her memorial service and thousands more into the streets. The outcry over her death has been compared to what happened in the U.S. after the police murder of George Floyd. The thousands protesting in January followed nationwide public demonstrations of 500,000 in November in Rome. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni claims that being a woman means she understands, but her party, the Brothers of Italy, is fascist and she has actually done nothing.

Giulia Cecchetin

No one did more than Giulia’s sister, Elena Cecchettin, who told this truth on prime-time TV: “Many people have called my sister’s murderer a ‘monster.’ But a monster is someone who deviates from society’s norms, while he is a healthy son of a patriarchal society steeped in the culture of rape. Femicide is not a crime of passion,” she added, “it is a crime of power. It is a state-sponsored murder inasmuch as the state does not protect us. Do not observe a minute of silence for Giulia. For Giulia, burn it all down!”

It was after this talk that demonstrations broke out across Italy. Students joining the struggle took heed of Cecchettin’s words and, rather than observing the suggested minute of silence, poured out of their classes into the streets shouting and clapping. As one student explained: “It was not appropriate to follow the ministerial directive to be silent, but rather the opposite: read, talk, make noise!”


Elena Cecchettin’s call to “Burn it all down!” is inspiring because women sense that burning it all down is what it will take.

There’s nothing new about femicide; it is older than the Greek tragedies. It is not some “new” reaction to feminism. Most murdered women are not agitating for women’s rights, they’re just trying to live their lives, which is not a radical desire and shouldn’t be seen as one. But in many cultures, women just trying to live their own lives is viewed as radical, as outrageous, and cause for murder.

In a contradictory twist, where women are considered less than human, as property, they still have the power to bring shame on their families. How? They disobey a cultural taboo, a rule that contends that men have the right and obligation to control what women do, where and whether they can go someplace, who they can meet, who they can love, who they can marry. Not toeing that cultural line is an excuse for murder. In some cultures, it’s just that she made some guy angry, or she tried to leave him, or burned dinner. When you’re not considered an actual human being, it can be almost anything. Evidently there are tens of thousands of reasons why so-called “intimate partners or husbands” kill the women they live with, and/or the women they supposedly “love.”

It’s not that there aren’t laws against femicide and “honor killings.” It’s just that those laws are often weak, or not enforced, or the police are a big part of the problem. Authorities often don’t believe women or don’t care, and so do nothing to actually protect them.


These attitudes aren’t only at the local level. When someone like Turkey’s Erdoğan sends his thugs out to beat and gas women who are simply demonstrating for their rights and for freedom, he sends a message about the value of women’s lives. Fascist rulers reinforce misogyny because, horribly, it brings in recruits, it’s popular. Just look at the following Andrew Tate has. Tate, a wannabe fascist, makes a living as a misogynist influencer teaching men how to practice violence against women. This has made him $5 million a month from his 100,000+ subscribers. So many are rooted in viewing others—women, people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, etc., etc.—as Other, as less than them. We see that in Donald Trump, a racist who mocks people with disabilities and who treats women as sex objects, there for his entertainment. If they aren’t willing to play that role, he’ll just “grab them by the pussy” or rape them, as he did E. Jean Carroll.


Readers of News & Letters know that when News and Letters Committees speaks of revolution, we make sure that our readers know we are not talking about something easy, simple, or one-dimensional. In her book, Rosa Luxemburg, Women’s Liberation, and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution, Raya Dunayevskaya, the founder of Marxist-Humanism in the U.S., writes of the

“two pivotal questions of the day; and, I might add, questions of tomorrow, because we are not going to have a successful revolution unless we do answer them. They are, first, the totality and the depth of the necessary uprooting of this exploitative, sexist, racist society. Second, the dual rhythm of revolution: not just the overthrow of the old, but the creation of the new; not just the reorganization of objective, material foundations but the release of subjective personal freedom, creativity, and talents. In a word, there must be such appreciation of the movement from below, from practice, that we never again let theory and practice get separated” (p. 108).  

In the context of femicide, that “movement from below, from practice,” can be seen in the worldwide demonstrations against femicide—in Somalian women saying, “We are going to continue to make noise until there is a change”; women in Kenya demanding that “Love is not something that should put you at risk for death”; women in Turkey coming out on International Women’s Day year after year knowing they will be met by tear gas and beatings; Honduran woman telling the world, “We can’t wait!”; and Italian women seeing the need to “Burn it all down!”

Key is the question of “the totality and depth of the necessary uprooting.” This is why we emphasize that revolution can’t stop with the overthrow of a government, or changing economic relationships—as fantastic and necessary as such changes are. Revolution has to be so deep and total that all human relationships are transformed. That has to be part of the overthrow of the old. If it isn’t, then women—and many others for that matter—will never be free.

In this struggle against misogyny, femicide, racism, and other oppressions can be seen some of the vision of the future implicit in these movements, “the creation of the new.” Certainly much of that “new” will be that women are comprehended as human beings who not only want to live in freedom, but would make of freedom something totally unique.

One thought on “Women worldwide fight femicide

  1. This is a great lead article for Women’s History Month. The more women can achieve this vision of freedom, the more support we can give to those among us abused by capitalism and fascism into believing we don’t deserve a new society with truly human relations.

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