Last May, the Greek public was obsessed with, and eventually outraged by, Caroline Crouch ‘s murder at the hands of her husband, confessed wife killer Babis Anagnostopoulos.
The Crouch femicide appears to demonstrate a system of collateral damage and light sentencing for men who kill their wives. It is also a consequence of a society that not only tolerates violence in general, but also appears to still carry patriarchal, anachronistic ideas about a woman’s place in society.
A summary of the twelve femicides in Greece in 2021
Just one month before Crouch’s murder, 28-year-old Konstantina Tsapa and her brother were murdered by her estranged husband in Makrinitsa, a village near the city of Volos. Tsapa had left her husband, who went on to brutally stab her and her brother, after years of abuse.
On January 2021, a 54-year-old woman living in Meskla, Crete was killed by her 47-year-old husband, who is Norwegian. The man claims that he stabbed his wife, who was the mother of two children, 14 times because he was drunk.
In early June, a woman, aged 64, was killed by her 75-year-old ex-husband in the Athenian suburb of Agia Varvara. Her body was found in a pool of her blood just outside her apartment building. Her former spouse claimed that he shot the woman because her “behavior (toward him) was totally despicable.”
While on vacation with her boyfriend on the island of Folegandros, a young woman whose first name was Garyfallia, 26, was horribly beaten and then thrown off a cliff into the sea by her 30-year-old partner. No last name for the victim is known. He claimed that he killed her in what he calls a “bad moment” because she was “making fun” of him.
The most recognized case around the world was last May’s murder of the young British-Filipino woman Caroline Crouch, by her husband, Babis Anagnostopoulos. He initially claimed she was killed by a gang of foreign burglars who broke into their home. He later confessed to strangling his wife.
In late July, a 40-year-old Albanian-born man entered the police station in the Dafni suburb of Athens, confessing to killing his 31-year-old wife. Her body was later found in a pool of blood in their apartment. He said he killed her because he was jealous.
In the central Greek city of Larissa last August, a 43-year-old woman was murdered when her 54-year-old husband shot her eight times inside a taverna where she was working.
Also, early last August in Rethymnon, Crete, 47-year-old Stavroula Syragopoulou was shot in the back by a 49-year-old’s hunting rifle. She died on the spot, while he shot himself and died several days later in the hospital.
In late August of 2021 a 55-year-old woman was brutally murdered by her Georgian boyfriend inside their apartment in Thessaloniki. The woman was severely beaten and then stabbed, while pleading for her life.
In early September the remains of a 42-year-old Romanian woman were found cemented in the yard of her house. After killing her, the murderer placed her in a fetal position and put her dead body in cement, which then hardened around the body. She had been declared missing last February. Her 39-year-old boyfriend, who was arrested in Romania, stands accused of the crime.
In late September a 32-year-old woman was murdered by her 40-year-old former boyfriend. They had broken up a few days before he shot her in the back with a rifle. The murderer then went back to his house and shot himself.
Just last week, on October 1, a 78-year-old man suffocated his 75-year-old wife in Argolida’s Porto Heli district, in the Peloponnese. He then hanged himself inside the house. The police found his confession note, which stated that he had killed his wife because she was having terminal health issues.
This series of brutal, disturbing crimes highlight the issue of domestic violence in abuse in the country. Another issue brought forth by these femicides is the inadequate police response to domestic abuse issues.
Why such a rise in femicides?
“We are a deeply sexist and patriarchal society,” says Anna Vougiouka, a social scientist and expert on matters of sex at “Diotima,” the Female Studies and Research Center. “Patriarchy means control, it means I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” she explains. She adds that if a woman decides to leave a patriarchal man, violence usually escalates.
Femicide is traditionally connected to the devaluation of women, which is a symptom of patriarchy, says Anna Lazou, an assistant professor of Philosophical Anthropology at Athens University. “Women being murdered for their sex are being murdered predominantly by male boyfriends of husbands,” she says.
Statistics show that domestic violence has been on the rise in Greece in recent years. In 2018 3,815 adult women were domestic violence victims. The number in 2019 rose to 4,171 women.
There were 13 femicides in 2018, eight in 2019 and ten in 2020. All of them were family or boyfriend related. Nine months into 2021 and the number of femicides is already at 12.
Dimitris Kioupis, an associate professor of Criminal Law and Procedure in the Athens Law university believes that it is about time that the term “femicide” was introduced to the Greek Penal Code.
“There are EU guidelines introduced into the Greek Penal system, but recent changes introduced by the government are distinguishing between murders committed in the heat of the moment and those committed in cold blood.”
“The new Penal Code allows for instances where a cold-blooded murderer can get 10 years in prison, instead of life imprisonment,” he says.
Either way, “femicide” has been introduced to the average Greek’s vocabulary. It is gradually being recognized as a growing “plague” of the Greek society. Whether or not it will be dealt with appropriately by the Greek institutions remains to be seen.