Femicide not taken seriously in the Netherlands, experts say

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Femicide, or the killing of women because of their gender, is not taken seriously enough, social workers and relatives of murdered women told MPs on Thursday during a round table discussion.

Of the 41 women who were murdered in the Netherlands last year, 21 were killed by their partner or ex. For years, “family dramas” as they are known in the Dutch press, have resulted in women being killed by a partner, often in their own home.

Reports of stalking and abuse are frequently refused, not followed up, and earlier reports not linked, lawyer Nelleke Stolk, who represents victims and relatives of crimes against women, said.

“The system fails women throughout and it is time politicians did something about it,” she said.

Stolk cited the case of Hümeyra, a 16-year-old girl from Rotterdam who was murdered by Bekir E in 2018 despite numerous reports to police that he was stalking her. It turned out Hümeyra had spoken to no fewer than 50 different officials about E.

“We thought things would get better in the wake of Hümeyra’s murder but not much was learned from it,” Stolk said.

Femicide is a good term, Stolk said. “It makes clear that we have a big problem on our hands. It’s not just about the dramatic result but about everything that went before,” she said.

Early recognition of the problem is key, Stolk told MPs. “We need to recognise red flags early on so we don’t keep recapitulating all the things that went wrong after the fact.”

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