Subtypes of Femicide

Subtypes of Femicide

While various definitions or typologies of femicide have been proposed by researchers in the past several decades, most distinguish ‘intimate femicide’ (or ‘intimate partner femicide’) and ‘familial femicide’ from other types of non-intimate femicide (e.g., stranger femicide, armed conflict femicide).

These three broad categories of femicide are defined below.

Intimate femicide, also referred to as intimate partner femicide, captures the killing of women by current or former partners. Globally, women are much more likely than men to be assaulted, raped, or killed by a current or former, primarily male, partner and it most often occurs within relationships where there is a history of intimate partner violence.

Familial femicide refers to the killings of women and girls by family members or other kin, primarily male, but some definitions include female perpetrators as well. These killings may often overlap with intimate femicide/intimate partner femicide if multiple victims are involved (e.g., familicide, filicide).

Non-intimate femicide involves the killing of women by someone with whom they did not share an intimate relationship, encompassing a broad range of femicide subtypes such as stranger femicide, femicide of women working in the sex trade, sexual femicide, femicide in the context of human trafficking, and armed conflict femicide (see below).

Drawing from prior research, subtypes of the above broad categories have also been identified. These subtypes are not always mutually exclusive and often overlap. Keeping this in mind, and recognizing that the list below is not exhaustive, various subtypes of femicide include:

Armed conflict femicide

Both state and non-state actors perpetrate physical, sexual, and psychological violence against women and girls as a ‘weapon of war’. Such actions are typically intended to punish or dehumanize women and girls and to persecute the community to which they belong. They are also used as a method of instilling fear, domination, and control. Targeted killings are usually premeditated with lethal force intentionally used against selected victims.

Associated/connected Femicide

This refers to the killing of a woman who was not the intended victim, sometimes referred to as a ‘collateral’ victim, in an attempted or completed femicide of another woman. This might be a female family member, friend, or stranger who was attempting to stop the killing, someone who was in proximity of a woman at high risk of violence, or an individual who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Corrective femicide

This type of femicide involves the killing of a woman by a perpetrator or group of perpetrators motivated by hate or rejection of the woman or girl’s sexual orientation. Sexual violence may also be evident in these femicides because the perpetrator(s) believe the victim violated traditional sexual or gender norms.

Culturally framed femicide

This refers to the killing of women or girls which are framed as occurring within a particular cultural context such as ‘honour’-based femicide or dowry-related femicide (see below).

  • Dowry-related femicide

A dowry is a cultural tradition whereby the family of the bride provides money and/or property to the family of the groom. When a larger dowry is requested following the marriage of the bride and groom, or when the groom’s family is dissatisfied with the dowry given to them, the woman starts to be considered an ‘unsuitable wife’. Women are then killed or forced to commit suicide through torture and harassment by the groom’s family.

  • ‘Honour’-based femicide

There is debate about the use of this term to refer to the killing of women or girls because their behaviour was seen by the perpetrator to bring shame to the family. Arguments against its use include are that it categorizes the killings of women and girls by the perpetrator’s rationale; it does not acknowledge that these killings are simply another form of familial femicide and so does not require a unique term; and/or there is no ‘honour’ in killing women and girls. Often perceived as normal behaviours in westernized contexts, the behaviours in question may include the choice of a partner not seen as appropriate, pursuit of education and/or employment, inappropriate attire, or premarital sex or the belief that premarital sex had occurred. Those who frame these killings within a cultural context argue that honour, from the perspective of the perpetrator, is believed to be restored to the family when the woman or girl is killed. These killings are usually perpetrated by male family members, although female perpetrators may also be involved. In some countries, these killings frequently take place in public to influence other women in the community.

  • Genital mutilation-related femicide

This type of femicide involves the killing of a girl or woman as the result of the practice of genital mutilation. Female genital mutilation involves the partial or full removal and/or injury of female genitalia for non-medical purposes. It is typically performed on girls between infancy and 15 years of age. Infections which arise as the result of unhygienic operations frequently result in loss of life.

Female-perpetrated femicide

Femicide by female perpetrators has been classified into a three-category typology by Diana Russell. The first category is a female acting as an agent of patriarchy, which may include dowry-related killings, female infanticide, and genital mutilation-related deaths. The second category captures females who may be acting as agents of male perpetrators such as accessories in gang-related femicide and what are referred to as ‘honour’ or dowry-related femicide. The final category captures females acting on their own behalf such as those who were driven by jealousy, or motivated by financial, crime-related or ideological activities.

Femicide in the context of human trafficking

This refers to the killing of a woman in the process of recruitment, transportation, and receipt of humans through use of threat, force and other coercive tactics as well as abduction, deceit, and/or abuse of power with the goal of exploitation. Individuals, particularly women and children, are often trafficked into prostitution or the sex trade industry, forced labour, slavery/practices, and other criminal activities.

Femicide in the context of sex work or prostitution

The killing of a woman who is involved in what is referred to as sex work or prostitution. Patriarchy, racism, colonization, and stigmatization by society are some key aspects that can be used to understand women’s vulnerability to femicide in this context.

Organized crime-related femicide

Beyond femicide perpetrated in the context of human trafficking, other forms of organized crime-related femicide involves the killing of women who are associated with gangs, drugs, smuggling, and/or gun markets. This type of killing can involve abduction, torture and sexual assault, murder and mutilation, decapitation, public displays and/or dumping of naked bodies and/or body parts. These femicides are often meant to serve as a threat to individuals or other organized crime groups.

Racist femicide

This refers to killings that occur because of hate or rejection of a woman’s ethnic or racial origins, real or perceived, or her genetic features.

Transphobic femicide

This refers to the killing of transgender victims by a perpetrator or group of perpetrators who are motivated by hate or rejection of the victim’s transgender identity. Sexual violence may also be evident in these femicides because the perpetrator(s) believe the victim violated traditional sexual or gender norms.

Sexual femicide

This term refers to sexual violations and sexual violence that result in the death of a woman or girl or occur during the killing of a woman or girl. Sexual femicides may be intentional including, for example, sexual violence perpetrated during armed conflict or against specific groups of women, but they may also be unintentional such as sexual violence perpetrated against women by male partners that results in the woman’s death. The sexual violence involved in sexual femicide may range from leaving the victim unclothed, often displayed publicly, to rape and mutilation.


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