The killing of Shanquella Robinson is being investigated as femicide, a term unfamiliar to many in the United States because such gender-motivated crimes, while a global problem, have not yet been defined by U.S. legislation.
Robinson, a 25-year-old student at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, died in October at a luxury rental property in Baja California Sur, Mexico.
Mexican prosecutors are seeking the extradition of a friend of Robinson’s as a suspect in the case. Last week, Baja California Sur Attorney General Daniel de la Rosa told local media that a warrant had been issued for femicide, or femicide because of her gender, in connection with Robinson’s case.
No one has been charged in the case, and authorities have not released the names of Robinson’s friends.
Unlike Mexico and other Latin American countries, the U.S. has no laws recognizing femicide as a separate crime from homicide, and some experts say that doesn’t mean femicide isn’t happening at an alarming rate in the U.S.
“Femicide is a regular occurrence in the United States, and many of the famous murders we all know are actually femicides, but we don’t label them that,” said Dabney P. Evans (Dabney P. Evans) said. Humanitarian emergencies, research on violence against women.
As the investigation into Robinson’s death continues, here’s what you need to know: What defines femicide in Mexico, why gender-based violence is a huge global problem, and why academics say femicide will Writing into U.S. law can help women.
Femicide is the most extreme form of gender-based violence (GBV), defined as the “intentional murder of women because they are women”.
Femicide falls into two categories: intimate femicide and non-intimate femicide. The former refers to femicide by a current or former partner, and the latter refers to femicide by someone who has not had an intimate relationship with a woman.
In most countries, femicide is not distinguished from homicide in its penal code, but Mexico is one of at least 16 countries that include femicide as a specific crime.
Under Mexico’s federal law, people face up to 60 years in prison if convicted. In Mexico, the distinction between homicide or unlawful killing and femicide varies from state to state.
Beatriz García Nice, director of the Wilson Center, said there could be a history of violence — sexual or nonviolent — and threats, or “for example, if the victim is in the community, if she Killed and her body in public” initiative on gender-based violence.
A video that has circulated online in recent weeks appears to show Robinson and another person getting into a physical altercation in the room. Her father, Bernard Robinson, told CNN that his daughter was thrown to the ground and beaten on the head during the video.
It’s unclear when the video was taken or if it depicts the moment Robinson’s injuries led to her death.
While Mexico has legislation against femicide, “the main problem is enforcement,” García Nice said. She said the number of gender-based violence cases was under-reported in national statistics and the law was “under-enforced” in the justice system.
Nearly 95 percent of femicides in Mexico go unpunished, García Nice said. “If you commit femicide, your chances of getting convicted are really low. That’s one of the reasons we’re still seeing rates that are very, very high.”
Mexico’s “feminist” crisis began decades ago and first gained national attention in the 1990s, said Alejandra Marquez, an assistant professor of Spanish at Michigan State University who focuses on gender and sexuality in Latin America and the Caribbean. , when hundreds of women were killed in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez.
“There used to be this idea, especially in central Mexico, where it was like ‘women were being killed over the border,’ but because it spread across the country, it kind of became a phenomenon that couldn’t be ignored anymore,” Marquez said. told CNN.
“When you’re in Mexico, it’s part of the daily conversation,” Márquez added.
The disproportionate killing of black women, the crisis of missing or murdered Indigenous people and the fatal shooting of a woman at an Atlanta-area spa in 2021 are some examples of cases that could be flagged as femicide, experts said.
“As a society, we need to recognize that these are not one-off deaths. In fact, these are linked to patterns of male violence, and we need to think more carefully about how to prevent that violence,” said Evans, a scholar at Emory University .
Of the 2,059 women killed by men in the United States in 2020, 89 percent knew the killer, according to an analysis of homicide data by the Violence Policy Center.
For Evans, enacting femicide laws in the United States won’t address issues like the toxic masculinity, patriarchy and misogyny that lead to gender-based violence, but terminology can “get us talking about this phenomenon” and prevent it from happening.
The United States has existing laws to address gender-based violence and mechanisms to track domestic violence, but they are flawed.
Federal hate crime laws cover violent or property crimes based at least in part on bias based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity. At the state level, definitions of hate crimes vary, with several states not covering gender-based bias.
Earlier this year, federal lawmakers reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act. The legislation seeks to protect and support survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking – all documented precursors to femicide.
During a ceremony celebrating the passage of the bill in March, President Joe Biden said more needs to be done to address the issue.
“No one, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, should experience abuse. Period. If they do, they deserve the services and support they need to get through this. We will not rest.”
A United Nations report released last week showed that an estimated 81,100 women and girls were killed globally last year, with around 56 percent killed by intimate partners or family members.
Describing the full scope of gender-based violence is difficult because about four in 10 homicides reported by authorities “have no contextual information to identify and count them as gender-related homicides,” the report said.
“As we have seen, these rates are alarmingly high; however, they are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Kalliopi Mingeirou, head of UN Women’s Unit on Ending Violence against Women, one of the entities that produced the report.
Mingeirou said that if the femicide is not within the scope of the law, the police cannot conduct a proper investigation. Other challenges to ending and preventing femicide include lack of resources and training for prospective law enforcement authorities.
“Women and girls everywhere deserve a world where their choices are respected and their rights are respected,” Mingeirou said. “We need to have equal rights. We have the first right to be free from violence because if we are free from violence and harassment, we can achieve and we can thrive in this world.”