A group of more than 500 women and men came together Saturday night in Syntagma Square in Athens, calling for the term, femicide, known in Greek as “gynoktonia,” to be acknowledged by the state as a distinct crime.
They also held a vigil for Caroline Crouch, the latest Greek victim of “death by domesticity.”
Women and men clad in black, some having smeared their hands and necks in red, appeared on the steps in front of Parliament to mourn the murder of Crouch. Holding signs and lighting candles, the Hellenic Network for Feminists stated on their Facebook page that the murder confirmed again that men commit femicide to control and own women.
Violence against women can comprise a wide range of acts, from verbal harassment and other forms of emotional abuse to daily physical or sexual abuse. At the far end of the spectrum is femicide: the murder of a woman.
Call It By its Name: Femicide
The large banner the group held said “Call it by its name: Femicide.” Other posters displayed at the vigil stated: “Not my husband’s — not my father’s — I want to belong to me,” “In the street and at home safe — not brave,” “We control our bodies,” “No means no, and “The patriarchy kills.”
“We must take to the streets and we must demand justice and a change in the law to recognize femicide,” Maria Gasouka tells Greek Reporter.
The professor emeritus at the University of the Aegean has lectured and researched for decades on issues of gender and equality through the department of cultural technology and communication. She added “Tuesday, we will be at the Athens courthouse to send a message to the community and legislators that enough is enough.”
Gasouka said that women’s solidarity movements are in mourning now, but they are determined to put an end to femicide. “Women’s groups across Greece want to incorporate the word femicide in criminal law and public debate, because the word femicide rallies people to struggle for social and cultural change and rejects gender-based inequality and violence.”
According to Gasouka, who is also a spokesperson for the Hellenic Feminists Network, the legal system in the country perpetuates femicide. The legal system does not acknowledge the misogyny behind crimes. It does not recognize femicide, or gynoktonia, as a separate crime.
“There have been so many incidences of femicide in Greece. Worldwide the count was at 80,000 at the end of 2019,” Masouka relates. “Where is the state now? The Secretariat for Gender Equality has been silent as this monster has been uncloaked. Why is a crime that affects half the nation’s population being ignored?”
Demonstrating Against Femicide at Athens Courthouse Tuesday
The group Hellenic Feminists Network has asked the members of their Facebook group to join them on Tuesday morning at the Athens Courthouse, also referred to as the Evlepidon. The group is rallying their cause around the slogan “Solidarity with Caroline” at the courthouse.
Babis Anagnostopoulos, the husband of Crouch, who confessed to her murder to Athens police on Thursday night, will file a plea following his arraignment last Friday.
Caroline Crouch, a 20 year-old, British-born resident of Greece, was allegedly suffocated to death, by Anagnostopoulos, her 32-year-old husband, on May 11. Crouch and Anagnostopoulos’ infant daughter, 11 month old Lydia, was with the couple at the time of the murder.
Initially Anagnostopoulos, a helicopter pilot, led the police on a wild goose chase, with a fabricated story of a gang of armed, foreign men breaking into the couple’s home in the Athens suburb of Glyka Nera to supposedly rob them of cash and jewelry.
Anagnostopoulos told police that they had tied up the couple separately and eventually strangled Crouch, with the baby present at her side.
After 40 days, forensic evidence retrieved from smart phones and smart watches owned by the victim and her husband told another story which was wildly inconsistent with the pilot’s account.
Anagnostopoulos was contacted by police on the day of Crouch’s 40-day memorial service, held on their home island of Alonissos in the Aegean, and flown back to Athens. Confronted by police with digital evidence and inconsistencies in the pilot’s initial deposition, Anagnostopoulos later confessed that day after hours of questioning.
The pilot allegedly said, “She said she wanted us to separate. That is why I killed her.”
Reports have emerged that Anagnostopoulos said he was overcome by the fear of losing his wife and his daughter on that night, following back and forth arguments and text messages between himself and Crouch. He reportedly placed a pillow over Crouch’s face and only after her body was lifeless did he realize what he had done.
The Attika Police Directorate subsequently released information about the contents of Crouch’s personal diaries, revealing a very troubled relationship with her husband since miscarrying their first child.
It appeared that Crouch had suffered from post-natal depression. Also released was the report of smart phone and smart watch digital evidence during the time when the victim and Anagnostopoulos were supposedly immobilized by the alleged bandits.
Anagnostopoulos had created a torturous tale, apparently fabricated so that he would not lose his daughter. He staged the crime scene and even strangled the family dog, by hanging the pet by its leash, from the staircase, to make the story credible and remove any suspicion from him.
The pilot, handcuffed and wearing a bulletproof jacket, was arraigned Friday morning at the Athens Courthouse, on one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of intentionally killing an animal. Anagnostopoulos will give further evidence and enter a plea at the Athens Courthouse Tuesday morning.
“Monster” Who Perpetrated Femicide
“Anagnostopoulos very character drew suspicion away from the crime,” Masouka said. “A young, attractive Greek, economically comfortable in a respectable profession — what mother wouldn’t want such a son-in-law? And yet he was a monster,” Masouka said.
“He will gain public sympathy because of his boy-next-door appearance — and that is why we should be relentless. His training as pilot, to remain calm and think fast in a life or death situation, to suffer the least amount of collateral damage, that was his concern — his own life-how he would survive,” Masouka tells Greek Reporter.
She adds “I am shocked as I have just seen on the news reports that this couple used an app on their phones to be able to see each other at all times. What kind of a good relationship is that?”
The professor enumerated several cases of violence against women that have led to their death in recent years in Greece.
Masouka said she still aches for her former student, Eleni Topaloudi, who was raped and murdered on the Greek island of Rhodes in 2018. “How many more of our daughters, our sisters, our mothers do we have to see violently killed because they were women that refused to submit to the will of men?”
Masouka told Greek Reporter “Women and men will be there to continue to draw attention to deaths from domesticity — dying at the hands of a perpetrator who holds the keys to a woman’s home and often, her heart.”
Women in Greece who are experiencing violence in their home can call the hotline for Violence Against Women at 15900.