Fighting Femicide: Cultural and Legal Interventions
On the 5-6th November, London Centre for Social Studies and the School of Law at Queen Mary University hosted a conference entitled ‘Fighting Femicide: Cultural and Legal Interventions’. Over the two days, panels and discussions were held, featuring eminent speakers including Karen Ingala Smith, founder of the ‘Counting Dead Women’ campaign; Patsili Toledo of Dones Juristes, Barcelona; Sven Pfeiffer of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime; Professor Jeremy Horder of the LSE; and Rebecca Emerson Dobash & Russell P Dobash both of the University of Manchester, as well as many more from universities and NGOs across the world.
The conference was designed to explore femicide in the dominant cultural community with particular reference to how ‘provocation’ is used as a defence for femicide in Anglophone Western countries in the same way ‘honour killings’ are used to justify it in minority communities. Indeed, femicide is a phenomenon in Anglophone Western countries which is in urgent need of being fully acknowledged by the law.
Topics discussed included legal strategies for fighting femicide along with a variety of international case studies, with contributers discussing femicide in Spain, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Latin America, and Finland.
As well as this, a performance of the play ‘Othello on Trial’, an adaptation of the Shakespeare play, in the beautiful Octagon room was attended by conference-goers and local secondary school children. The play is about an infidelity-related murder of a woman where the audience must take up the role of jury. Dr Adrian Howe said of the play that it “takes a novel and innovative approach to raising awareness about femicide. Using scenes from Othello and excerpts from real murder trials, we expose men’s culturally-embedded excuses for killing their partners – ‘she was unfaithful, she disobeyed her husband, she left him’. At the core of the play is the importance of prevention and attitudinal change.