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Gendercide is the systematic killing of members of a specific gender.[1] The term is related to the general concepts of assault and murder against victims due to their gender, with violence against women and men being problems dealt with by human rights efforts.

Gendercide shares similarities with the term 'genocide' in inflicting mass murders; however, gendercide targets solely one gender, being men or women. Politico-military frameworks have historically inflicted militant-governed divisions between femicide, and androcide; gender-selective policies increase violence on gendered populations due to their socioeconomic significance.

Gendercide is reported to be a rising problem in several countries. Census statistics report that in countries such as China, the male to female ratio is as high as 120 men for every 100 women.[2] Gendercide also takes the forms of infanticide and lethal violence against a particular gender at any stage of life.

Origin of the term[edit]

The term gendercide was first coined by American feminist Mary Anne Warren in her 1985 book, Gendercide: The Implications of Sex Selection. It refers to gender-selective mass killing. Warren drew "an analogy between the concept of genocide" and what she called "gendercide". In her book, Warren wrote:

By analogy, gendercide would be the deliberate extermination of persons of a particular sex (or gender). Other terms, such as "gynocide" and "femicide," have been used to refer to the wrongful killing of girls and women. But "gendercide" is a sex-neutral term, in that the victims may be either male or female. There is a need for such a sex-neutral term, since sexually discriminatory killing is just as wrong when the victims happen to be male. The term also calls attention to the fact that gender roles have often had lethal consequences, and that these are in important respects analogous to the lethal consequences of racial, religious, and class prejudice.[1]


Memorial plaque in Berlin for Nuriye Bekir, who was murdered in an "honor" killing.
Memorial plaque for Hatun Sürücü in Berlin. The Kurdish woman from Turkey was murdered at age of 23 by her brothers in an "honor" killing.

Femicide is defined as the systematic killing of women for various reasons, usually cultural. The word is attested from the 1820s.[3] According to the United Nations, the biologically normal sex ratio at birth ranges from 102 to 106 males per 100 females. However, ratios higher than normal – sometimes as high as 130 – have been observed. This is now causing increasing concern in some South Asian, East Asian, and Central Asian countries.[4] Such disparities almost always reflect a preference for boys as a result of deeply embedded social, cultural, political and economic factors.

The most widespread form of femicide is in the form of gender-selective infanticide in cultures with strong preferences for male offspring such as China and India. According to the United Nations, male-to-female ratios have experienced radical changes from the normal range.[4]

Sex ratios at birth over time in China:[5]

  • 106:100 in 1979 (106 boys for every 100 girls, close to the upper limit of the 'normal' range)
  • 111:100 in 1988
  • 117:100 in 2001
  • 120:100 in 2005

In India, male children are preferred because the parents are looking for heirs who will take care of them in their old age. Additionally, the cost of a dowry, the price the family has to pay for their daughter to be married off, is very high in India; while a male heir would bring a dowry to the family by way of marriage. According to the British publication, The Independent, the 2011 census revealed 7.1 million fewer girls than boys aged under the age of seven, up from 6 million in 2001 and from 4.2 million in 1991. The sex ratio in the age group is now 915 girls to 1,000 boys (109 boys for every 100 girls), the lowest since records began in 1961.[6]

The honor killing and self-immolation condoned or tolerated by the Kurdish administration in Iraqi Kurdistan has been labeled as "gendercide" by Mojab (2003).[7][8]

There have been reports of femicide in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico[9] where 411 assassinations of women were qualified as serial and/or of sexual characteristic, by domestic violence, intimate femicides and hatred against women.[10] The response to these murders has included the criminalisation of feminicide in the country.[11]

Contemporary mechanisms of gendercide lie within sexualized violence against women; the females of "sub-Saharan Africa (Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola) in areas that are also at the heart of the "AIDS belt"",[12] are not only at-risk due to living in places where there are "current cases of large-scale rape",[12] but are also susceptible to contracting HIV. Less popularized tactics of gendercide against women include the systemic withholding of critical medical, and nutritional care, predominantly occurring "across the belt of "deep patriarchy" extending from East through West Asia and into Northern Africa";[13] here, female life-spans are decreasing substantially and are falling within the teen-to-thirties range due to deaths during gestation periods through childbirth. Adam Jones, co-founder of Gendercide Watch, an online research platform created to spread awareness, estimates that the denial of healthcare for women equates to approximately the same toll as that of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide per year.[13]

Over 200,000 die from haemorrhage, with many giving birth in buses or bullock carts. Lack of health education restricts commonplace medical knowledge, thus bystanders are unable to offer assistance. In addition, the casualty rate from self-administered abortions is roughly 75,000. Eclampsia, a condition possible pre-, during, and post- childbirth, is characterized by seizures due to high blood pressure, and its effects kill another 75,000 through damage to the brain and kidneys. Moreover, 100,000 die from sepsis; contracted through untreated infections of the uterus and remaining fragments of the placenta that poison the bloodstream. Also, female casualties due to labour obstructions stagger around the 400,000 range.[citation needed]

Adam Jones drafted possible solutions to aid the crisis in Africa. He concluded treatment "would mean training some 850,000 health workers, according to UNICEF and World Health Organization reports, as well as [funding] the necessary drugs and equipment. The total cost would be US $200 million, about the price of half a dozen jet fighters".[13]


Pharaoh and the Midwives, James Tissot c. 1900. In Exodus 1:15-21, Puah and Shiphrah were commanded by Pharaoh to kill all of the newborn baby boys, but they disobeyed.

Androcide is the systematic killing of men or boys for various reasons, usually cultural.[14] Androcide may happen during war to reduce an enemy's potential pool of soldiers.

Examples include the 1988 Anfal campaign against Kurdish males that were considered "battle-aged" (or approximately ages 15–50)[15][16] in Iraqi Kurdistan. While many of these deaths took place after the Kurdish men were captured and processed at a concentration camp, the worst instances of the gendercide happened at the end of the campaign (August 25 – September 6, 1988).[citation needed][17]

Another incident of androcide was the Srebrenica massacre of approximately 8,000 Bosniak men and boys on July 12, 1995, ruled as an act of genocide by the International Court of Justice.[18][19] From the morning of 12 July, Serb forces began gathering men and boys from the refugee population in Potočari and holding them in separate locations, and as the refugees began boarding the buses headed north towards Bosniak-held territory, Serb soldiers separated out men of military age who were trying to clamber aboard. Occasionally, younger and older men were stopped as well (some as young as 14 or 15).[20][21][22]

In fiction[edit]

The 2015 film No Men Beyond This Point is a science fiction mockumentary set in an alternate timeline in the 1950s nine months after a near-Earth object almost hit Earth in 1952, making it possible for women to reproduce by parthenogenesis and without men. Men are no longer born, and they have disappeared from all important positions. Sex is outlawed, and the male sex becomes a dying breed. The few remaining men are kept in a reserve and are no longer part of the society, with the exception of a few men who are allowed to do low work. In this world where women are wearing the pants, are asexual, and have no male offspring anymore, it is now up to the quiet and modest household helper Andrew Myers to ensure that the male does not die out. The 37-year-old is the youngest living man on Earth and works for a family made up only of women.

The 2003 film Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women, an Indian movie directed by Manish Jha, features a dystopian situation resulting in 2050 from accumulated violence against women over many years. A wealthy man in one village discovers the existence of a young woman not too far from his home, and he buys the woman as a sex slave to be used by him and his sons. In this wretched town in which only men exist aside from her, the wealthy man's family is torn apart while the victim finds herself mercilessly dominated by more men. The film received critical acclaim, with the frank nature of the brutality and despair portrayed being cited by many reviewers, and it sparked increased debate over the contemporary problem of rape in India and other human rights issues in the nation.[23]

The 1985 book The Handmaid's Tale depicts a story of a fascist military dictatorship controlled by a clique of theocratic ideologues. With the population of both men and women having been vastly cut down, fertile women are relatively scarce and mass numbers of non-fertile women are forced into becoming unpersons. Fertile women are regarded as property with few rights, being unable to read and do other basic activities. Canadian author Margaret Atwood created the work as a warning about totalitarianism and oppression of women in the modern age; in particular, she had experienced a fellowship in the then divided Berlin in the early 1980s, visiting the Soviet-dominated areas and witnessing a general despair, which helped inspire the book's beginnings.[24][25][26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Warren, Mary Anne (1985-01-01). Gendercide: The Implications of Sex Selection. ISBN 978-0-8476-7330-8.
  2. ^ The Economist. The War on Baby Girls: Gendercide. 4 March 2010
  3. ^ 'femicide' at Origin of femicide: First recorded in 1820–30 accessed 8 September 2019
  4. ^ a b United Nations Population Fund 2011. accessed 8 September 2019
  5. ^ "All Girls Allowed. Gendercide in China Statistics Statistics About Gendercide in China". Archived from the original on 2019-03-27. Retrieved 2012-03-22.
  6. ^ Laurence, Jeremy: The full extent of India's 'gendercide' The Independent, accessed 8 September 2019
  7. ^ Shahrzad Mojab. (2003). Kurdish Women in the Zone of Genocide and Gendercide. Al-Raida 21(103): 20–25. "Kurdish Women in the Zone of Genocide and Gendercide- Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-06-16. Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  8. ^ Nadje al-Ali and Nicola Pratt: Between Nationalism and Women’s Rights: The Kurdish Women’s Movement in Iraq, accessed 8 September 2019
  9. ^ "Mexico: Justice fails in Ciudad Juárez and the city of Chihuahua". Amnesty International. 28 February 2005. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  10. ^ "Feminicidio". INEGI. Encuentro Internacional de Estadística de Género. Archived from the original on 28 March 2010. Retrieved 19 September 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  11. ^ Garita Vílchez, Ana Isabel. "Cuadro No.6. Elementos del tipo penal. Chile. Código Penal" (PDF). La regulación del delito de feminicidio/feminicio en América Latina y El Caribe (in Spanish). Ciudad de Panamá, Panamá. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-936291-74-8. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  12. ^ a b Adam Jones (2000) Gendercide and genocide, Journal of Genocide Research, 2:2, 185-211, DOI: 10.1080/713677599
  13. ^ a b c Jones, Adam (March 2013). "Gendercide: Examining gender-based crimes against women and men". Clinics in Dermatology. 31 (2): 226–229. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2011.09.001. PMID 23438385.
  14. ^ Liao, Fang-Lian; Green, Tamara M. (1991). "The Greek and Latin Roots of English". TESOL Quarterly. 25 (4): 724. doi:10.2307/3587092. ISSN 0039-8322. JSTOR 3587092.
  15. ^ Whatever Happened To The Iraqi Kurds? Human Rights Watch Report, 1991, accessed 8 September 2019
  16. ^ Dave Johns: The Crimes of Saddam Hussein, 1980 The Fayli Kurds, accessed 8 September 2019
  17. ^ Hardi, Choman (2011). Gendered Experiences of Genocide: Anfal Survivors in Kurdistan-Iraq. Ahgate. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-0754677154.
  18. ^ Srebrenica Timeline, accessed 8 September 2019
  19. ^ Serbians Still Divided Over Srebrenica Massacre, accessed 8 September 2019
  20. ^ "Separation of boys, ICTY Potocari" 26 July 2000, accessed 8 September 2019
  21. ^ "Separation, ICTY Sandici" Archived 2019-03-17 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "Separation, ICTY" 11 July 1995 accessed 8 September 2019
  23. ^ "Where women are extinct: Matrubhoomi". Indian Express. 23 July 2005. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  24. ^ Robertson, Adi (December 20, 2014). "Does The Handmaid's Tale hold up?". The Verge. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  25. ^ Bradley J. Birzer (June 13, 2015). "A Decadent Hell Hole: The Dystopia of "A Handmaid's Tale"". The Imaginative Conservative. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  26. ^ Margaret Atwood (20 January 2012). "Haunted by The Handmaid's Tale". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 August 2015.

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