“I probably killed my wife,” were the first words heard in a call to police in the early hours of Monday morning. A 40-year-old Albanian man in Laconia made the call, allegedly committing Greece’s 15th femicide this year.
According to police, the suspect called police headquarters in Evrota and informed the authorities that after a quarrel he had with his wife, he had strangled her.
The 36-year-old femicide victim, also from Albania, and her husband lived in the area of Vlachiotis for several years. They had two children and were employed as field hands. According to police, they had never had had any prior contact with the authorities.
Apparently the husband and wife quarreled intensely while their two children were sleeping in the next room. According to statements made to police by the husband, his wife wanted to leave him.
“I was pissed off when she insulted me, I grabbed her by the throat and strangled her. Who is she to talk about my mother and curse at me? I lost it and I strangled her,” he stated. Initially the man allegedly fled the scene of the crime, apparently regretting his actions and later notifying authorities that he had murdered his wife.
The couples’ children, who are eight and 10 years of age, are currently being looked after by the victim’s brother. Vlachiotis’ village president, Ioannis Koutsotheodoris, said the couple had lived in the area for about three years and they did not have family nearby. The femicide, or gynaiktonia as it is known in Greek, has shocked the entire community.
Sparta Police announced that officers went to the couple’s home following the suspect’s call, where the body of his wife was found. Her body was transported to the Vlachiotis Health Center where her death was officially confirmed.
According to the victim’s brother, speaking to Sparta News.gr, the couple had lived in the area for three years and had been married for more than a decade.
Femicide, or the killing of women by men, is a worldwide phenomenon. A total of 15 femicide cases have been recorded in this year alone in Greece.
A pandemic of violence against women, UN report says
“Violence against women is an existing global crisis that thrives on other crises. Conflict, climate-related natural disasters, food insecurity and human rights violations all contribute to women and girls living with a sense of danger, even in their own homes, neighborhoods, or communities,” said UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitated isolation and social distancing, enabled a second, shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls, where they often found themselves in lockdown with their abusers. Our new data underlines the urgency of concerted efforts to end this,” she added.
This series of brutal, disturbing crimes highlights the issue of domestic violence in abuse in the Greece.
Why such a rise in femicides?
“We are a deeply sexist and patriarchal society,” says Anna Vougiouka, a social scientist and expert on gender issues at the Female Studies and Research Center Diotima. “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 or husbands,” she says.
Statistics show that domestic violence has been on the rise in Greece in recent years. In 2018, a total of 3,815 adult women were victims of domestic violence. 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.
Lighter Sentencing for Femicide
Professor emeritus at the University of the Aegean Maria Gasouka has lectured and researched for decades on issues of gender and equality through the Department of Cultural Technology and Communication.
“Women’s groups across Greece want to incorporate the word femicide in criminal law and public debate, because the word rallies people to struggle for social and cultural change and rejects gender-based inequality and violence,” she says.
According to Gasouka, who is also a spokesperson for the Hellenic Feminists Network, the legal system in the country perpetuates femicide. Greece’s legal system simply does not acknowledge the misogyny behind crimes. It does not recognize femicide at this point 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.
A “domestic killing” actually carries a lighter sentence across the globe, if it is not premeditated. If one is murdered by a stranger on the street, instead of an intimate partner, there is usually a longer sentence.