Counting Dead Women in Australia: An In-Depth Case Review of Femicide

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Family Violence, 2019, 34 (1)
Issue Date:
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© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature. Gender-based fatal violence (femicide) is a preventable cause of premature death. The Counting Dead Women Australia (CDWA) campaign is a femicide census counting violent deaths of women in Australia from 2014. We conducted a cross-sectional in-depth review of CDWA cases Jan-Dec 2014 to establish evidence of antecedent factors and describe femicide in Australia. Victim (n = 81) and perpetrator (n = 83) data were extracted from the CDWA register, law databases and coronial reports. Mixed methods triangulation of socio-demographic and incident characteristics. Women ranged in age from 20 to 82 years of age (44 ± 15.4). There were 83 perpetrators, of which 13 were unknown (not yet apprehended). Known perpetrators (n = 70) ranged in age from 16 to 72 years of age (40 ± 12.7) and 89% were male (62/70). The location of the crime was most frequently the victim’s home (49/70). In cases where the relationship between the victim and perpetrator was known (n = 59), over half of femicides were committed by intimate-partners (33/59). Intimate-partner perpetrators were more likely to have a history of violence and commit murder-suicide than other perpetrators. Femicide is overwhelmingly perpetrated by males, with women most vulnerable in their own home and with their intimate partners. Furthermore, intimate-partner femicide is associated with modifiable risk factors, including previous violence and mental health issues, which represents opportunities for early intervention within healthcare settings as practitioners are well-placed to identify risk and provide support. In line with recommendations for multi-sectoral approach, future research should target identification of risk and protective factors, and improved coordination of data collection.
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