On December 6, 1989, 14 young women were killed in an act of violent misogyny at the cole Polytechnique at the University of Montreal.
This mass murder, though perpetrated by a single man, evolved from a social environment of gender inequality, maltreatment, colonialism, racism and other conflicting systems of oppression.
Feminicide, which refers to the sex/gender-related killings of women and girls, does not occur suddenly. Although the media often portrays femicides as spontaneous “crimes of passion” when men kill their female partners, these femicides are the culmination of a history of violence in more than 70 percent of cases – and often crimes of control. There are.
They are often more likely to be premeditated than non-intimate partner murders. Many of these deaths are preventable, and we must use every tool at our disposal to raise public awareness and increase prevention.
to account for officials
Public health efforts around the COVID-19 pandemic have made clear the importance of clear messaging, prioritizing expert voices and holding political leaders and social institutions accountable for saving lives.
As these efforts continue, we once again mark December 6 as National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, and reflect on the ongoing epidemic of male violence that is affecting women and girls around the world. continues life.
Our work at the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability tracks this extreme form of sex/gender-related violence. As is evident from the COVID-19 pandemic, the media plays a vital role in informing us how threats are defined, what aspects to look for and how to deal with a problem.
In short, the media frames the problem and suggests solutions. As such, media can be a major mechanism for primary prevention, but only if the problem is accurately represented.
The media has a leading role in covering feminism, not only in awareness and education in general, but also in actively building attitudes and beliefs that can help with prevention efforts.
Conversely, hurtful representations include those that portray these killings as isolated or individual events, with a focus on victim behavior suggesting (implicitly or explicitly) that they are at risk for their deaths. were guilty or marginalizing certain groups on the basis of caste, religion, socio-economic grounds. Class, sex-trade participation, sexual orientation, and other factors.
There is also one thing that is not represented at all. The “Missing White Girl Syndrome” underscores that white, usually class-privileged victims receive copious amounts of media coverage, while Indigenous, black and other racial women and girls are missing and murdered. They are largely excluded from social attention. Therefore, some women and girls remain invisible in life and death.
Media reporting on female murder is important
It is therefore important to accurately inform the public of how journalists kill women. Media coverage of feminism has the potential to link it to wider issues related to violence against women, to educate the public about these crimes, their wider social causes, consequences and implications.
This media coverage may include terminology such as homicide, statistics on the number of women killed by intimate partners, domestic violence resources or new expert sources to speak on femicide, including front-line service providers, advocates and researchers. are more eligible.
In addition to providing a more in-depth, empirically supported context of femicide, this type of coverage raises public awareness of the issue. It does not report killings of women as separate incidents but sheds more direct light on community and social solutions.
This can include funding services that assist victims of violence, targeting education prevention, legal reform, and cultural change, such as approaches that support or normalize violence against women.
Read more: ‘Home is the most dangerous place for women’, but private and public violence are linked
As we remember those women and girls killed by violence in Canada, we can reflect critically on how their stories are told and how the media educates us about their deaths. We can move beyond relying on police narratives and cultural structures about the murder of women, the experiences and expertise of survivors and loved ones who have been lost to violence.
We can reduce the sensationalist, graphic reporting of murder of women and stop suggesting any victim’s actions, behaviors or lifestyles contributed to their deaths.
Feminicide is a tragic loss of life. It is the most extreme act of violence against women, a violation of human rights and part of a public health crisis. Accurate representations of this crime by the media must include approaches that address all three of these areas.