Painted in blood crimson on an improvised memorial in Vienna, the quantity 31 is a stark reminder of a grim depend: the ladies killed by males in Austria final 12 months.
After a number of significantly horrific circumstances among the many killings had been extensively reported within the media, the difficulty of femicide is now squarely underneath the highlight.
In a small, rich nation the place violent crime usually is uncommon, a public debate has begun, galvanising activists and forcing politicians to behave.
“It’s a really dramatic situation… It’s incomprehensible,” Maria Roesslhumer, government director of a community of girls’s shelters, instructed AFP.
Figures have fluctuated through the years, however between 2010 and 2020, 319 ladies had been killed in Austria, largely by their male companions or ex-partners, with a file excessive of 43 victims in 2019, in keeping with a examine commissioned by the federal government final 12 months.
In 2018, Austria was among the many three European Union members to report the very best charges of femicide the place the perpetrator was a member of the family or relative, Eurostat knowledge confirmed.
Nonetheless, activist Ana Badhofer nonetheless decries a “lack of outrage” over femicide, saying her group instigated the memorial at a Vienna market out of frustration.
She cited an instance from November of a lady overwhelmed to dying with a baseball bat.
It was a very stunning case final March that pressured the difficulty to the forefront.
A 35-year-old girl, recognized solely as Nadine W., was overwhelmed and strangled with a cable in a Vienna tobacco retailer by her 47-year-old ex-partner.
He then poured gasoline on her and set her alight earlier than leaving the store and locking the door.
She was rescued however died a month later from her horrific accidents.
In April, the 43-year-old proprietor of a craft beer retailer — beforehand accused by a politician of harassing her with obscene messages — was arrested for killing his former associate, a 35-year-old mom of two.
Each males got life sentences and despatched to establishments for mentally disturbed offenders.
‘Disgrace and stigma’
From France to Mexico, South Africa to Turkey, campaigners have sounded the alarm about femicide and violence towards ladies, usually by way of huge rallies.
In Austria, the coalition authorities just lately allotted 25 million euros ($28 million) this 12 months, amongst a number of initiatives in direction of preventing the issue.
The killings have prompted some soul-searching within the Alpine nation, the place extra ladies than males are killed, in keeping with Eurostat figures, making it an outlier within the EU.
Roesslhumer pointed to a “tangible societal disrespect and disdain of women” which wanted to be tackled.
Karin Pfolz has bitter firsthand expertise of such attitudes.
Throughout the decade through which she was caught in an abusive marriage, she incessantly felt remoted, she instructed AFP.
“You don’t have anyone you can talk to, because there is so much shame and social stigma,” stated Pfolz, who now speaks about her experiences in colleges.
Criminologist Isabel Haider, of the College of Vienna, stated that regulation enforcement officers additionally wanted to be educated to reply extra sensitively, as many ladies really feel “police aren’t taking them seriously”.
It was a concern of not being believed that stored Pfolz from reaching out to the police.
When she did ultimately take her husband to courtroom, she stated that the — feminine — choose’s angle bolstered the sense she wasn’t believed.
‘Refugee in your individual nation’
The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatovic, on a current go to to Austria, known as for “an ambitious and comprehensive approach” to “protect women’s rights and gender equality”.
She famous the Austrian gender pay hole — slightly below 20 % in 2019, in keeping with Eurostat — is among the many widest within the EU.
“When you leave, all you’ve got is a plastic bag in one hand and a child in the other,” Pfolz stated.
“You become a refugee in your own country,” she added.
However Pfolz is aware of that even when ladies are within the means of constructing a brand new life, they usually nonetheless face threats from former companions.
Her ex-husband would come to her new home and he or she remembered having to “lock myself into a room with my son because our lives were at risk”.
Whereas she recognises that the difficulty of violence towards ladies is now increased up the agenda, Pfolz nonetheless laments that “almost nobody even considers this a crime — until it turns to murder”.
This 12 months was only some days outdated earlier than one other stunning case hit the headlines — a 42-year-old girl shot within the head and killed by her husband at their dinner desk.
(Apart from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV workers and is printed from a syndicated feed.)