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Every Six Hours: Intimate Femicide in South Africa Presented by: Shanaaz Mathews at Strengthening Understanding on Femicide Meeting Washington DC, 14-16.

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Presentation on theme: "Every Six Hours: Intimate Femicide in South Africa Presented by: Shanaaz Mathews at Strengthening Understanding on Femicide Meeting Washington DC, 14-16."— Presentation transcript:

1 Every Six Hours: Intimate Femicide in South Africa Presented by: Shanaaz Mathews at Strengthening Understanding on Femicide Meeting Washington DC, 14-16 th April 2008

2 Investigators Shanaaz Mathews, Naeema Abrahams & Rachel Jewkes (Gender & Health Research Unit, MRC), Lorna Martin (Dept. of Forensic Medicine, UCT), Lisa Vetten (CSVR) Carl Lombard (Biostatistics Unit, MRC).

3 BACKGROUND Intimate femicide is the most extreme form and consequence of intimate partner violence The health consequences of IPV have been extensively explored Yet, little is known about the mortality of women as a result of IPV It is estimated that 40 –70% of female murder victims are killed by an intimate partner globally (WHO 2002) There is an absence of published data from developing countries The only other study in South Africa was by Vetten (1996) who undertook research in one province, –Cases were identified through inquest inquiries & newspaper reports –This study estimated that a woman was killed every 6 days in South Africa Before this study the magnitude of the problem in South Africa had not been explored systematically

4 Limitations in the design of homicide studies in developing settings Studies on intimate femicide have predominantly been conducted in developed countries These studies mainly used homicide data-bases and FBI supplemental homicide reports Such data-bases do not exist in SA or other similar settings Current routine death data collected in SA –Home affairs only note cause of death –Police homicide only data capture homicide data by gender Routine data sources in SA do not enable murder to be studied by victim-perpetrator relationship It required novel ways of accessing the required data

5 AIMS OF STUDY To describe the size of the problem of intimate femicide To identify the factors associated with intimate femicide To describe aspects of the medico-legal investigation of femicide To compare management of cases of women killed by intimate and non-intimate partners

6 DEFINITION OF TERMS Female Homicide (or femicide) – the unlawful and intentional causing of a death of a female Intimate Femicide – the intentional killing of a woman by an intimate partner (husband, boyfriend, cohabiting partner, same sex partner (current or ex), a rejected would-be lover as well as perpetrators from incestuous relationships Non-Intimate Femicide - the intentional killing of a woman by someone other than an intimate partner

7 SAMPLE Data was collected from a nationally representative sample of mortuaries, so that the findings would be generalisable nationally Mortuaries were stratified based on size: –Large > 1500 bodies per annum –Medium 500 -1500 bodies per annum –Small < 500 bodies per annum Sample of mortuaries were drawn taking into account this stratification 25 mortuaries, spread between all provinces

8 METHODOLOGY All female homicides aged 14 and over were identified via death registers at sampled mortuaries If we were uncertain whether a case was a homicide, it was included and verified with police information and pathologist report Post-mortem reports were photocopied and injury and pathology data extracted by a forensic pathologist

9 METHODOLOGY cont….. Police case numbers were the crucial link to identify investigating officers responsible for cases The aim was to interview the IO in all identified cases Where the IO was not available, information was obtained from the commanding officer or a record review Information from IO included: –Whether the cases were homicide –Victim- perpetrator relationship –Background of woman and perpetrator –Legal outcome of case



12 RATES OF FEMICIDE IN SA Overall female rate of 24.7 per 100 000 women 14+ yrs Where victim perpetrator relationship was known: –50.3% of women were killed by an current or ex husband / boyfriend and considered as intimate partner femicide –8.8 / 100 000 women 14+ yrs compared to 2.5 times higher than 3.5/100 000 women 15 years and older – US North Carolina (Moracco et al 1998)

13 – In South Africa, 4 women per day are killed by an intimate partner – A woman is killed every 6 hours by an intimate partner



16 RELATIONSHIP STATUS OF INTIMATE FEMICIDES RelationshipProportion Common-law Partner (current & ex) 52.1% *Boyfriend (current & ex)27.9% Husband (current & ex)18.5% *Other1.5% *Boyfriend: non-cohabiting partner *Other: incest perpetrator, same sex partner & rejected person proposing love

17 MECHANISM OF DEATH BY TYPE OF HOMICIDE MechanismIntimate Partner % Others % P -value Gunshot30.032.50.56 Sharp force32.633.20.82 Blunt force33.321.20.02 Strangulation 3.4 8.30.02 Asphyxiation 0.1 3.00.00 Burns 1.1 2.20.37 Drowning 0.4 0.30.76

18 LETHALITY OF FIREARMS A third of women were killed by a firearm Ownership of a legal firearm was strongly associated with intimate femicide There was a 10 times greater risk of intimate femicide compared to non-intimate femicide if the perpetrator owned a legal gun 20.6% of intimate femicide perpetrators owned a legal and 7.1% an illegal gun The PAR shows us that 64.9% of intimate femicides where the perpetrator owned a legal gun could have been averted if he did not own a legal gun

19 INTIMATE FEMICIDE-SUICIDE 1 in 5 men continue to commit suicide after killing am intimate partner Intimate femicide-suicide rate : 1.7 per 100 000 women 14+years 66.3% of these men owned a legal gun 58% of these men were employed in the security industry 29% of these murder-suicides occurred after the woman ended the relationship

20 RAPE HOMICIDES Rape homicide was suspected in 16.3% of all female homicides Rate of 3.65/100 000 14 years+ More likely to occur when the perpetrator was a stranger Cause of death more likely blunt force injuries, strangulations and asphyxiation Cause of death less likely to be gunshot

21 FACTORS ASSOCIATED WITH BEING KILLED BY AN INTIMATE PARTNER Younger victim Older perpetrator Killed at home Victim worked as a domestic worker Victim lived on the street Perpetrator had a problem with alcohol use Use of a legal firearm in the murder Mechanism of death was - Blunt force (based on a logistic regression model)

22 CONCLUSIONS This study has shown that SA has the highest reported rate of IF, IF-S and rape homicides in the world where it has been studied Mortality from IF is an extension from the IPV problem in SA rather than homicide The study has indicated the need for ongoing surveillance and monitoring of female homicides The findings have been used as an advocacy tool to raise the issue of intimate femicide with policy makers and civil society organisations Importantly we have developed a model for data collection which can be adapted to other developing settings

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