The Malta Independent 18 June 2019, Tuesday

Men have been killing women since the time immemorial

Saturday, 22 September 2018, 08:53 Last update: about 10 months ago

Lara Dimitrievic

Historically, traditionally, culturally and socially violence on women has long been accepted as part of every day’s life. Moralistic, patriarchal, strict hierarchical power structures in our societies demand enforcement by any means necessary. The same is true for basically any culture, any society, any civilisation at any time in history. Men, made in image of god(s), are the rightful rulers of the life on this planet. Women were, on the other hand, made to deceive, tempt righteous men into false, lustful, sinful life. Therefore, control of women, their freedoms to own property, vote or run for office; their rights control their minds and bodies; their rights to live free have to be subdued and controlled in order for the righteous men to remain in control.


We can see that in how women have been treated during history, but we can see it today in the way women and womanhood is treated and policed by the society at large. Is what women wear appropriate? Is women’s behaviour “womanly” enough? Are women capable of being politicians? Can they be religious leaders? Can they run a business? Is their place on the street, office, military rather than at home? These are just a few among many others ways society police’s women.

Capability and ability of women as a category have been and are questioned and analysed in a way that is never afforded to men. Men are the measure of all things and women simply cannot measure up.

Due to efforts and fight by women and women run organisations in the last couple of centuries, we made progress on many of these. In many places, but not all, women can vote, own property, run for office and live free almost without fear, with “almost” being the operative word.

Almost, because when questioning and doubting fail, there is always brute force. Violence on women, and its ultimate end -  femicide, remain rampant even in places where women’s rights and gender equality progressed the most.

Causes and origins of violence on women are structural. This means that due to our patriarchal history, our society is built around sometimes subconscious, sometimes openly held belief that women are worth less than men. Women are paid less, women achievements are denied or ignored, women are underrepresented in almost all fields of life (and overrepresented in others, preassigned womanly ones).

On an individual level this leads, unfortunately, to a number of men who see women in their lives as less worthy than them and, therefore,treat them as their property to use, abuse and dispose at will.

This is what femicide is. It is not a crime of passion, because there is no love in violence. It is not a temporary loss of reason nor does it come from sudden rage. It is a calculated act, used occasionally and tolerated by society, to remind women where their place is. 

The fight against femicide is a fight against misogynistic beliefs that are inbuilt into the structures of our society. This is where the change has to begin.


Lara Dimitrievic is a lawyer and the founder of Women’s Rights Foundation

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