Wednesday, 4 November : Professor Sandra Walklate, University of Liverpool – Reimagining the Measurement of Femicide: From thin to thick counts
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Professor Sandra Walklate is Eleanor Rathbone Chair of Sociology at the University of Liverpool (UK) conjoint Chair of Criminology in the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre (Australia). Her research focuses on criminal victimisation particularly in relation to violence against women. Her most recent book is with her colleagues at Monash published by Routledge (2020) entitled ‘Towards a Global Femicide Index; Counting the Costs. She is currently President of the British Society of Criminology and was Editor in Chief of the British Journal of Criminology (2014-2019).
The term femicide, while contested, focuses attention on women killed at the hands of men known to them and has encouraged researchers and policy makers to consider the nature and extent of such lethal acts of violence. This has generated work which focuses attention on the lethal act and the lethal actor with deaths counted as the measurement moment. As has been documented these counts are themselves incomplete. In particular they exclude the ‘missing’. Nonetheless, these ‘thin’ counts have contributed to the increasing impetus for a wide range of global and local initiatives designed to draw attention to the nature and extent of femicide and to inform both prevention and response. ‘Thin’ counts, measuring as they do, who does what to whom, whilst justified and justifiable, are a surface manifestation of the deeper embrace of social ecological theory within this field of work. This theory draws attention to constellations of risk factors which can result in lethal violence. The resultant effect of which is a narrow vision of what might, or might not, count as femicide: a ‘thin’ count. However, if femicide was viewed through a wide-angle lens, to includie all those lives curtailed and shortened as a result of living with men’s violence(s), that which Walklate et al (2020) have called ‘slow femicide’, femicide counts would look somewhat different. These are ‘thick’ counts. A resort to ‘thick’ counts would frame measurement practices through the lens of patriarchal social relations in which gender becomes the salient variable. These counts would focus attention on not only who does what to whom but also on what with, where, and when. Thus ‘thick’ counts would both broaden and deepen our understanding of the nature, extent and impact of femicide. (This paper is part of ongoing work with Dr. Kate Fitz-Gibbon).