Killing of women/Femicide

Risk factors and the situation in Germany

In Germany, the motive for femicide is usually a woman's intention to break up with her partner, or a separation that has already taken place. This is also often referred to as post-separation killings.

In a large number of cases, these killings are preceded by domestic violence or stalking and a relationship characterised by control, intense jealousy, psychological violence or severe isolation. This has been confirmed in a recent study by criminologist Monckton-Smith from the University of Gloucestershire (UK), in which over 300 homicides of women were investigated. Likewise, in Germany, 60% of the perpetrators who killed their (former) partners had previously come to the attention of the police.

Domestic violence is usually a process which sets in slowly. In order to recognise whether there is potential for violence in the partnership, recognising warning signals can be crucial. A partner who is excessively jealous and/or starts monitoring social contacts can be a warning signal.

Acts of domestic violence can take many forms, including threats, humiliation, social control and isolation, hitting and kicking, or forcing the partner to engage in sexual activities. Domestic violence is usually repeated. It can last for years. Over time, violent abuse may escalate in terms of frequency and severity.

Situations in which the woman has announced her intention to break up with – or has already split from – her partner, or indeed divorces, are very dangerous for women – most often, this is when the violence escalates. Knowing this often makes it even more difficult for women affected by violence to take the step of separating. What’s more, there are frequently other reasons which make it more difficult to break up, such as financial dependencies or shared children.  

The causes of women being killed are not, as is often portrayed in the media, the perpetrator’s alleged migrant background or a mental disorder. Instead, they are linked to deeply ingrained patriarchal patterns in society, and a lack of equality for women.