Austrians question the structural problem of femicide in the country

February 23 was nicknamed by associations “Black Friday” because on that day five women were killed in Vienna. Three in a brothel, then a mother and her daughter in their apartment. Three days later, another woman was killed in Lower Austria. This makes six murders in the space of four days, a dark series which has highlighted the structural problem of femicide in Austria.

In the Alpine republic, which has 9 million inhabitants, women are more victims of murder than men, a rare occurrence within the European Union. According to associations, one in three women in Austria is exposed to physical or sexual violence and every month, three women on average are killed. In recent years, NGOs point out, the number of feminicides has generally increased: between 2010 and 2020, 319 women were killed in the country.

This is a complex question, because Austria is generally a safe country, where we rightly feel safe in public spaces, but as we know, femicides most often occur in the private sphere. A study on this subject was published last summer. It first tells us that in three-quarters of the cases, the perpetrator of feminicide is the partner or ex-partner of the victim and that 72% of the perpetrators of the cases examined had Austrian nationality.

We also learn that in 30% of cases, there was a history of violence. An important point of the study concerns the high risk indicators that should be taken into account in prevention. Thus, 47% of the authors of the cases studied presented psychological disorders. A third of them had experienced “traumatic experiences”, such as losing a job, and the same proportion had already suffered physical or sexual violence. According to the researchers, in addition to all these factors, a cultural dimension must also be taken into account because the representation of women and the family still remains rather conservative today in Austria.

The associations mobilized


Most associations are asking for more financial resources, particularly for prevention. One of them estimated the effort required to be made at least 250 million euros per year. The associations are also calling for a policy on a larger scale and longer term than that put in place today. In response, the Austrian government announced that it was working on better networking between different actors and structures, as well as the opening of an analysis center on feminicides within the Ministry of the Interior.

This article is originally published on rfi.fr

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