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The Media and Gender-Based Murders of Women: notes on the cases in Europe and Latin America

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The Media and Gender-Based Murders of Women: notes on the cases in Europe and Latin America
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   1 The Media and Gender-Based Murders of Women: notes on the cases in Europe and Latin America 1   Patsilí Toledo and Claudia Lagos 2   Introduction Violence against women, especially its most severe form, femicide/feminicide, is caused by many factors, suc as social constructs and te symbolic violence of wat it means to be a man or a women in different societies! "n contemporary societies, mass media plays a fundamental role in tese constructs due bot to te content, language and narrative used, and to audience consumption! Tis article analyses te connections between gender#based murders of women and te media coverage of tese murders, particularly in $urope and Latin %merica! &at effect, if any, does te broadcasting and coverage of murders of women ave on te victims and perpetrators, and on society as a wole' &at role can or sould (ournalism and te media play in violence against women' "s regulation necessary and/or legitimate' )   I. Female homicide and ender-!ased "iolence *omicide is a serious crime everywere! "t violates an individual+s rigt to life and as terrible conseuences for society as a wole, in te form of te suffering wic te loss of a loved one causes and te feelings of public insecurity tat omicide provo-es, wic in turn erode social and uman capital and undermine community development .anpat et al, 2011 10! Te 3nited 4ations 5ffice on 6rugs and Crime .3456C, 2011 confirmed tat tere as been a decrease in omicides at global level in te last few decades, but tis decrease does not apply to female omicides! &ile tey still represent a minority of total omicides, women are te main victims of domestic or intimate partner violence, crimes wic are not decreasing over time 7 ! 4early 708 of women murdered all over te world ave died at te ands of teir intimate partners .&*5, 201)! 6espite te 1  Tis article was commissioned by te *einric 9:ll ;oundation! Te autors tan- te foundation for its support, as well as (ournalist <icardo <amíre= for is support in te literature review! 2  Patsilí Toledo as a P6 in Constitutional Law from te %utonomous 3niversity of 9arcelona! Claudia Lagos as a >aster in ender ?tudies from te 3niversity of Cile! )  To tis end, articles publised over te last five years in specialist (ournals on communication, (ournalism studies and gender studies were reviewed! <elevant manuals produced by te industry, professional associations and oter bodies related to te prevention of violence against women and uman rigts in general, bot globally and locally, were also ta-en into consideration! ;urtermore, it sould be pointed out tat te cases mentioned are not e@austive and tey are used to illustrate te ob(ectives of tis article as opposed to giving a complete report of tis problem! >edia representations in fiction and entertainment programmes ave not been considered in tis article! 4everteless, teir social significance does need to be addressed, particularly fiction programmes .series and soaps and entertainment .e!g! reality sows wic are very important due to te audience consumption and appropriation/resignification! ;uture papers sould investigate teir significance! 7  AB"n conte@ts of decreasing overall omicide levels, te sare of men among all omicide victims gradually decreases over time, wile te sare of female victims goes upD .3456C, 2011 EF!   2 significance of te penomenon, in many countries information on te relationsip between te perpetrator and victim is not recorded, or is only partially recorded .&*5, 201)! ;emale omicides ave gained more social and media attention in recent decades! ;rom te reporting of cases of disappearance, se@ual violence and murders of women in Ciudad GuHre=, >e@ico, te use of te e@pression feminicide or femicide as been e@tended in Latin %merica to refer to gender#based omicides of women, including cases were women are -illed by teir partners or former partners! Tese cases, called intimate femicides, ma-e up te ma(ority of female omicides at global level, as indicated by te 3456C! $urope too, as started to pay more attention to femicides, particularly tose committed by partners or former partners, under a variety of official terms feminicide/femicide, domestic violence, mortal victims of gender#based violence, and male violence against women, among oters! %ltoug in te ma(ority of countries tere are no regular statistics in tis respect, in countries were tey ave been evaluated, e!g! in ermany, it as been found tat alf of te women murdered were -illed by teir partners or former partners E ! "n ;rance, te number of women murdered due to Adomestic violenceD increased by more tan 208 between 2001 and 2012 I  and in "taly, te feminist organisations tat record tese deats ave reported a sustained increase in te murders of women in recent years J ! "n ?pain, tere as been an official record of mortal victims of gender#based violence K  since 200) F ! Tese records confirm tat intimate femicide is usually te corollary of previous violence by partners or former partners against women, i!e! tey are not isolated violent incidents! Tis underlines te role tat policies regarding gender#based violence in intimate relationsips may ave in preventing femicide and protecting women! "n Latin %merica, women+s organisations from various countries started to record tese cases over a decade ago, and in recent years limited official statistics ave also been available! &ile te real situation in te continent is eterogeneous, several countries present alarming rates of femicide/feminicide 10 ! "n general, te number of gender#based female omicides in Latin %merica E  %ccording to figures from te ;ederal Criminal Police 5ffice .9% for 2011 of )1) women murdered, 1E7 died at te ands of teir partner or former partner! Te report for 2011 .publised in 2012 is te first in wic te 9% as provided information on te relationsip between victim and murderer in omicides! I  <ising from 122 women -illed troug domestic violence in 2011 to 17K in 2012, according to figures from te >inistry of te "nterior publised in Gune 201)! J  <ising from K7 cases in 200E to120 in 2011, according to cases reported by te press! K  "n ?pain, Agender#based violenceD is considered to be violence Ae@ercised against women by teir present or former spouses or by men wit wom tey maintain or ave maintained analogous affective relations, wit or witout coabitation, as an e@pression of discrimination, te situation of ineuality and te power relations prevailing between te se@esD .%rt! 1 of 5rganic Law 1/2007, 2K 6ecember, on Compreensive Protection >easures against ender#based Violence! F  ?tatistical information on gender#based violence! ?ummary of mortal victims! %nnual data! >inistry of *ealt, ?ocial ?ervices and $uality, overnment of ?pain! %vailable at ttp//www!msssi!gob!es/ssi/violenciaGanuary/portal$stadistico/fica<esumen/ome!tm .%ccessed on 1K Ganuary 2017! 10  ;or e@ample, te rates of female omicide in several countries in Central %merica .suc as $l ?alvador and uatemala and some regions of >e@ico are around 10 per 100,000 women! "n contrast, tese rates in countries li-e Cile and %rgentina are lower tan 1!7 per 100,000 women!     ) were te perpetrators were te women+s partners is te tird igest worldwide, after ?outeast %sia and %frica .&*5, 201)! <egional differences can be e@plained by te differences in omicide patterns in general and according to te degree of cultural tolerance toward violence against women! II. The media and "iolence aainst #omen %s wen tal-ing about violence against women and te cultural conte@ts in wic it ta-es place, wen referring to te media, it sould be noted tat tere are also ma(or differences between te media systems in different countries and regions .*allin and >ancini, 2012 and 2007M &aisbord, 2000 11 ! Certain cultural matrices are particularly important to consider and are central to te sub(ect at and! 6ifferent television cultures can offer differing narratives and propose disparate visions of society! "n tis way, te narrativity of te news varies depending on te countries and teir cultures in some $uropean countries, tere is no room for te narrative tecniues of fiction .music, close#ups, reiteration, melodrama, wic are central to te narrative structure of te media in more sensationalist Latin %merica 12 ! Te role of te media in te production and reproduction of gender stereotypes, and particularly of gender#based violence, as been a source of concern in feminist studies for many decades .>attelart, 200)! Tis concern as given rise to researc into te place of women, and especially violence against tem, in areas suc as media production processes, gender representations in te media and debates and content in general in te media, among oters 1) ! &it regard to news production, we can note te low proportion of women wor-ing in editorial offices and in ig#level editorial positions ."&>;, 2010 17 ! ;urtermore, various studies demonstrate tat egemonic news values continue to correspond to a male#dominated culture wic permeates  (ournalistic routines in newsrooms .Tsui and Lee 2012M Neldes, ;ico and 6iddi, 2012M <oss and 11  Te main differences are given due to teir relationsips wit political systems .depending on ow closely tey are positioned to te political parties and te government, wit society+s intermediary organisations and wit commercial and mar-et mecanisms! 12  % ma(or precursor to popular mass culture sensationalism is te sensationalism of te religious imagery of te Catolic Curc, used as an instrument of propaganda .a dramatic/symbolic aestetic at a time wen te curc was losing its power in te Cristian world! Later on, te media of te popular mass culture .and particularly te newspapers would use te same resources to acieve te same effect appealing to primary instincts .fear, emotion, pain, suffering, (oy, etc! to try to cause sensation, i!e! to ma-e an impact .?un-el, 1FKE E0! 1)  ?ince 1FFE, te lobal >edia >onitoring Pro(ect .>>P as been investigating female presence and representation in te news in more tan one undred countries! Te results of te 2010 monitoring sowed tat tere as been a sustained increase in te presence of women in te media at global level, but it is nowere near being eual to mean .>>P, 2010! 17  %s as been documented in oter industries, te glass ceiling   penomenon can also be confirmed in te media! Tis concept as been used since te 1FK0s in studies in different countries, in all regions, to refer to invisible O but noneteless real # barriers tat women come up against in te wor-place!   7  Carter, 2011M Neldes and ;ico, 2010M Vega, 2010a and 2012, cited in C4TV, 201)! ;urtermore, different studies in various countries ave noted an over#representation of violence and discrimination against women and girls in news content 1E , especially news tat is broadcast on television .<ovetto, 201), on C4TV, 201) 2E! $ossi!le effects of ne#s co"erae of femicide%feminicide: a) Presenting violence against women as an individual or relationship problem: ;our frames ave been identified in te media coverage of femicide/feminicide and violence against women 1 a police frame or A(ust te factsDM 2 a frame indicating tat tese events appen to people wo are different to AusDM ) a frame tat blames te victims and/or e@cuses te perpetratorM 7 a frame tat implies soc- at ow AnormalD te perpetrator identified appears .illespie et al, 201)! Police frames or A(ust te factsD favour a sensationalist view, were gruesome details O suc as te number of times tat victim was stabbed # or oter specific details of te attac- are igligted! Tis frame is freuent in Latin %merica but it also e@ists in $urope 1I ! Te media often refers to  (ealousy 1J  or te use of drugs or alcool, uncritically (ustifying te actions of te perpetrator of te crime, or including e@pressions li-e Afrom love to murderD or Acrime of passionD, portraying te omicides as Alove storiesD 1K ! 1E  Tis is not to say tat te media gives more coverage to tese cases tan wat really occurs, but rater tat current news constructs e@acerbate certain cases and certain viewpoints, and, as a result, reinforce violence! 1I  Arenoble! 3n omme tue sa femme de neuf coups de couteauD B% man murders is wife by stabbing er nine times www!ouest#france!fr, 1E 4ovember 201)! %vailable at ttp//www!ouest#france!fr/grenoble#un#omme#tue#sa#femme#de#neuf#coups#de#couteau#1J1717I .%ccessed 1K Ganuary 201)! 1J  AVieu@#couple#au#lit 3n omme de K) ans tue sa femme de K0 ans par (alousieD B%n K)#year old man -ills K0#year old wife out of (ealousy, 6irect!cd, 10 4ovember 201)! %vailable at ttp//www!direct!cd/201)/11/10/un#omme#de#K)#ans#tue#sa#femme#de#K0#ans#par#(alousie!tml .accessed 1K Ganuary 2017! A%pre un falso profilo faceboo- il fidan=ato geloso la uccideD B5pens a false ;aceboo- account (ealous boyfriend -ills, at today!it, 2K 6ecember 201)! %vailable at ttp//www!today!it/cronaca/nun=io#proscia#omicidio#francesca#milano#gioia#del#colle!tml .accessed 1K Ganuary 2017! "n Cile, on 2I 4ovember 201), website www!emol!com ran te eadline A6etienen a su(eto acusado de violar y embara=ar a su i(astra en ?an <amnD B>an arrested for raping and impregnating is step#daugter in ?an <amn, wit te epigrap A$l ombre aprovecaba ue su pare(a iba a traba(ar para mantener relaciones se@uales con la adolescente, las ue abrían sido consentidasD BTe man waited for is partner to go out to wor- to ave se@ual relations wit te teenager, wic were consensual, wic was a contradiction considering tat tis situation constitutes rape in Cilean legislation! ?ortly after its publication, te site canged te epigrap, removing te last prase! %vailable at ttp//www!emol!com/noticias/nacional/201)/11/2I/I)1II2/detienen#a#su(eto#acusadob#de#violar#y#embara=ar#a#su#i(astra#en#san#ramon!tml .accessed 20 Ganuary 2017! %lso in Cile, on I 4ovember 201), Las Últimas Noticias  ran on te front page QLa triste confesin del marido de la ca(era perdidaQ BTe sad confession of te missing casier+s usband about te case of a cruel femicide! Te newspaper was accused by women+s organisations of advocating violence! %vailable at ttp//www!cooperativa!cl/noticias/pais/mu(er/observatorio#de#gGanuary#y#euidad#acusa#a#diario#de#apologia#a#la#violencia/201)#11#0J/101E2)!tml .accessed 20 Ganuary 2017! "n ?pain, in 4ovember 201), a television station illustrated wit a meat mincer te dismemberment of a woman, news tat was described as sensationalist, umiliating, offensive, morbid and distasteful by several organisations! %vailable at ttp//www!uffingtonpost!es/201)/11/1)/descuarti=amiento#mu(er#toledoRnR72I7KK7!tml .accessed 20 Ganuary 2017! 1K  A?ursis pour un mari ui a tuS sa femme malade d%l=eimerD B?uspended sentence for a man tat -illed is wife wo ad %l=eimer+s disease, Le Figaro , 20 Gune 2012! %vailable at ttp//www!lefigaro!fr/actualite#france/2012/0I/20/0101I#20120I20%<T;"00770#al=eimer#le#meurtre#d#un#mari#desespere!pp .accessed 20 Ganuary 2017!   E  Tese frames maintain a critical disconnection between femicides/feminicides, presented as isolated, individual cases, and domestic violence as a broader social problem .illespie et al, 201)! % recent study carried out in ?weden sows tat te ma(ority of news studied describes violence as te result of imbalances in te family system, placing te focus of te problem at individual level, wic prevents violence being considered a social problem .*alili, 201)! "n "taly, feminist organisations recently reported te inappropriate treatment in te press of femicide/feminicide cases, for instance, cases tat are described as family tragedies and not as violence against women, or tat indicate depression due to te loss of a (ob as a (ustification, or tat insist on interviewing neigbours only to sow tat te murderer was a good man 1F ! "n te 3nited ingdom, as a result of te Leveson investigation 20 , various women+s organisations presented information on news coverage of violence against women in 2012 described as eiter Aintrusive, inaccurate, wic misrepresented or wic were misogynistic, victim#blaming or condoning of V%&D, giving several e@amples 21 ! b) The copy-cat effect % particularly significant aspect in te field of mass communication researc is weter te media can affect individuals+ beaviour! Tere is evidence tat tis as occurred in cases of yout suicide .>almut and 9riere, 1FKI! Te copy-cat   effect is mentioned in various reports in relation to cases of women burned wit acid in countries li-e 9anglades, "ndia and Cambodia, were it is maintained tat te increase in cases of women burned in tis way may be due to te copycat effect .alantry and estenbaum, 2011 10! Te case of Cambodia is of special interest on E 6ecember 1FFF, singer Tat >arina was attac-ed wit acid and te case was igly publicised 22 ! 9efore tis case, te number of acid attac-s recorded was relatively low, but since ten tere as been a sarp increase in tese types of attac-s .alantry and estenbaum, 2011! 9etween 6ecember 1FFF and >ay 2000, tere were 1E attac-s, si@ of wic also too- place in 6ecember .L"C%6*5, 200) E! Te Tat >arina case stirred up great media attention as did te fact tat te alleged perpetrator and accomplices were not arrested or 1F  A"l ACorriere della ?eraD non conosce il femminicidio nS le sue causeD, publised in blog n altro genere di comunica!ione , 2 Ganuary 2017! %vailable at ttp//comunica=ionedigenere!wordpress!com/category/cronaca#2/femminicidio#cronaca/ .%ccessed 20 Ganuary 2017! 20  Te investigation of te *ouse of Lords, eaded by Lord Leveson, too- place after confirming tat (ournalists and ig e@ecutives ad been bugging te pones of victims of violent crimes and bribing police to Aget informationDD! Te investigation concluded wit te Leveson "nuiry into te Culture, Practices and $tics of te Press, publised in 4ovember 2012! 21  A$nd Violence %gainst &omen Coalition, ;inal ?ubmission to te Leveson "nuiryD, Ganuary 2012! %vailable at ttp//www!levesoninuiry!org!u-/wp#content/uploads/2012/01/$nd#Violence#%gainst#&omen#Coalition#?ubmission!pdf .%ccessed 1K Ganuary 2017! 22  A%cid#Laced VengeanceD, The "ambodia #aily $%%&%N# , E#I ;ebruary 2000! %vailable at ttp//www!camnet!com!-/cambodia!daily/selectedRfeatures/acidRlacedRvengeance!tm .%ccessed 1K Ganuary 2017!
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