Killing of women/Femicide

What can you do? How can you help?

What the Istanbul Convention says

The Istanbul Convention came into force in February 2018. It is the "Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence". The Convention is the first instrument in Europe, which is binding under international law, targeted at violence against women and girls. States that have ratified the Convention undertake to implement all obligations arising from the Convention. These include binding measures for protection and intervention in high-risk cases of domestic violence, as well as effective prosecution of perpetrators.

According to the Istanbul Convention, the killing of a woman by her current or former partner can generally be considered an aggravating offence because it is linked to a sense of ownership of the woman (and not jealousy and despair). This should be examined on a case-by-case basis.

Furthermore, Article 51 of the Istanbul Convention states that

“Parties shall take the necessary measures to ensure that an assessment of the lethality risk, the seriousness of the situation and the risk of repeated violence is carried out by all relevant authorities in order to manage the risk and, if necessary, to provide co-ordinated safety and support.”

Dealing with high-risk cases

This is about how to deal with high-risk cases of domestic violence. A high-risk case may also arise if the women themselves do not have a clear sense of threat, because it is not uncommon that they underestimate their own situation and danger.

In their work, the bff’s specialist counselling centres support women who are particularly at risk of repeatedly experiencing serious violence. They work together to create protective measures, thereby ensuring greater safety. It is important that the institutions involved cooperate systematically with an interdisciplinary approach in order to recognise high-risk cases and take protective measures, because this has been shown to reduce the risk of experiencing violence.

In some cities or regions, there are best practice examples for dealing with high-risk cases of domestic violence. This includes regular interdisciplinary case conferences and cooperation, in addition to tried-and-tested instruments for risk assessment. All relevant institutions and specialists take part in the case conferences – the police, the public prosecutor's office, specialist counselling centres, women's shelters, youth welfare offices, child protection facilities and help centres for perpetrators, amongst others. It is important that nothing happens without the knowledge and consent of the woman concerned.

What can you do in the event of an imminent threat? How can you help?
If you are seriously threatened call the police emergency number (110). Give them your name and address and stress that you need immediate help. Let the police know whether you are injured, whether children or other people are still in the building, whether the perpetrator is still there, and whether he is armed with any weapons. People affected with hearing disabilities can also call the emergency number 110 by fax. Until the police arrive, find a safe place for yourself and, if necessary, your children, e.g. go to neighbours, shops or your own home.

Benefiting from professional support
Nobody should have to cope with violence on their own. Professional counselling services support threatened women and women affected by violence. You can quickly and easily contact a specialist counselling centre in your area. A woman counsellor there will help you to draw up a personal safety plan, and find out what legal options you have. If you need protection, the counselling centre will help you find a place in a women's shelter.