Number of murdered women continues to fall in Portugal
The Observatory for Murdered Women has recorded 18 femicides since the beginning of 2017, the lowest number in 14 years, says a women’s union.
“This is the third year we have seen a decrease in the incidence of femicide … we welcome the fact and we think it is a very positive development, but it is still too early to talk about a trend,” said Elisabete Brazil from the União de Mulheres Alternativas e Resposta (UMAR).
The numbers were updated on November 20, based on cases reported in the press. In addition to the18 murders there were 23 attempted murders. All the victims were over 36 years old.
In half the cases, the crime was committed by the husband, partner or boyfriend and in another 22%, the perpetrator of the crime had a past relationship with the victim.
More than half of the murdered women had been victims of domestic violence, with complaints filed in four cases and banning orders imposed in another two.
“Most of these situations do not arise in isolation, they arise from a relationship that was already violent and which ends in murder,” said Elisabete Brasil, stressing that the fact that complaints and prosecutions “were not enough to prevent these women being murdered.”
UMAR wants to see a “change in a culture that is still patriarchal, a machismo that still dictates that in a marriage or intimate relationship the woman is almost a man’s belonging.”
With regard to prevention, risk assessment should be continuous and we should “realise that a domestic violence abuser is a dangerous individual who often is capable of killing.”
The lack of accountability of the aggressors is a fact of life in Portugal, says Brasil, referring to the filing and suspension of prosecutions and, even in cases where there is a conviction, suspended sentences that end up giving the image of “a certain impunity both in the eyes of society and in the eyes of the victims themselves.”
Brasil says it is the women that have to flee to protect themselves while the men carry on as normal in the months or years leading to court.
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