In America, one woman is fatally shot by an intimate partner every 14 hours. A black woman is fatally shot every 10 hours. This means two black women are killed daily. Forgive me in advance because I know this is gruesome and a very hard pill to swallow. Sometimes, I don't have the stomach for it. I used to work in homicide for a local district attorney's office. I have heard, seen, read, and listened to things that the average woman isn't privy to. Femicide can take many shapes and forms. We often hear about the general rape or murder of Black women in abusive relationships, but femicide can also look like Black fathers harming their daughters, too.
This can happen when a mother decides to leave an abusive situation or is involved with an abusive partner. Take, for example, Alyse and Ava Williams, ages six and nine years old, whose father killed them and then killed himself. Before the incident, he was charged with domestic violence. Police reports stated a domestic dispute occurred between him and his wife before the killing, but this time he murdered their daughters. In another case, Larry Cosby killed his daughter Britney and her girlfriend Crystal because she was a lesbian. This murder is twofold – femicide and homophobia. Austin Stevens raped his 10-month-old daughter which is an example of sex-based violence because she was targeted, and she was a female child.
Femicide can also look like a woman being killed after a man gropes her or a man is rejected by a woman. Shadina Smith, 29, was killed after she told her fiancée she was groped by another man, and they were both shot by the assailant. Aieshia McFadden, 36, was killed in front of her daughter after she rejected the advances of a man who groped her butt. Tiarah Poyau, 22, was shot in the face after telling a man to stop "grinding" on her at a Caribbean parade.
All of these Black women were killed for different reasons, and these examples are all classified as domestic violence. If this is the first time you are hearing the word femicide, you're not alone.
What Exactly Is Femicide?
When I learned what femicide was, my heart sank into my stomach. And I was saddened to learn that my home country of Trinidad tops this list with 6.6 deaths per 100,000 women. We were never valued. It is no surprise that femicide is a worldwide epidemic. Women are murdered across Latin America, South East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean.
As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), femicide is the intentional murder of women because they are women, but broader definitions include killings of women or girls.
But let's take a step back to understand that violence against women is a major public health problem and a violation of human rights. According to WHO, violence is the leading cause of injury, disability, and risk factor for other physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive problems. And femicide is happening right here in the United States too. It just looks and sounds a little different than what you might see or read about in other countries.
So, what can we say about femicide in the United States? We can say a whole lot, but almost nothing at all. What I mean by this is that all violence against women is categorized as domestic violence. We don't have a special category for gender-based violence. It's typically ruled as a general homicide. BTW – gender-based violence is the term coined for violence against women and what femicide essentially is. This includes domestic violence and intimate partner violence.
For background and context, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed in 1994 to help end domestic violence. VAWA responds to victim needs by holding offenders accountable and allowing for data collection measures to learn more about domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking crimes. And as a result of the government shutdown in 2018, it expired. It was briefly renewed in early 2019 through legislation but expired again. It is currently a stalled bill in the U.S. Senate. However, VAWA is eligible for renewal every five years.
So, what's the holdup then? Domestic violence victims and survivors are just out here unprotected?
- The Boyfriend Loophole: if a person is convicted of domestic violence, current federal law does not prohibit abused or current former dating partners from having firearms, even though more than half of all initiate partner homicide is committed by dating partners.
- Stalker Loophole:if a person is convicted of felony stalking, current federal law only prohibits them from accessing guns, but people convicted of misdemeanor stalking can still legally obtain guns.
The question now is where do we go from here?
Thanks to women like Dawn Wilcox and Rosalind Page, we now have a place to start to understand the extent of the issue. Page has been a nurse for 31 years, she works with the community within the health advocacy space for those who cannot afford insurance or have little to no access to healthcare resources. She also works for the Veterans Affairs Department, lending her expertise to women veterans who have experienced high levels of abuse from within the community and as a serviceperson.
The two, nurses based out of Texas and Arkansas, respectively, have been collecting data and tracking cases of femicide in the United States for roughly five years to fill in the gap in data on femicide and bring awareness to this unseen crisis. Rosalind primarily focuses on femicide in African-American communities, while Dawn focuses on femicide in the U.S. as a whole through her organization Women Count USA to bring awareness, challenge media narratives and societal myths about femicide and domestic violence in the United States.
Rosalind is the founder of Black Femicide US. A Facebook group with more than 23,000 followers focuses on sharing the untold stories of crimes against Black women.
What We Do Know About Femicide In The United States
There is no standard definition of femicide in the United States. Crimes against women, whether it meets the criteria or not, are categorized as domestic violence or defined as intimate partner violence. As defined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), this includes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and psychological aggression. Although the World Health Organization recognizes the killing of women has steadily increased since 2014 in the U.S., it is not recognized as a problem like it is in other countries.
The U.S. doesn't recognize femicide as a special crime, so there is no legal definition of femicide in America because there are no laws for it.
For example, sex crimes are gender-neutral, but there are enhanced penalties if the victim is younger. There are enhanced penalties for domestic violence crimes, but they are hardly used because one can almost never prove the intent was based on gender in a court of law.
Femicide And Black Women
According to the Violence Policy Center, 1,948 women were killed by men in 2017. In the same year, the CDC also reported that Black women experienced the highest rates of homicide than any other racial group in the U.S. The specific issue for Black women is that 4 in 10 Black women experience physical violence in their lifetimes. Twenty percent of Black women have experienced rape during their lifetimes which is higher than other women overall. According to data from the CDC, and the Institute for Women's Policy Research,
Black women face a higher risk of being killed by a man, 2.5 times higher than White women. 9 out of 10 Black women that were murdered knew their killers. The main risk factor is easy access by perpetrators to firearms, both legally and illegally.
From a cultural standpoint, Black women are expected to be strong and able to handle abuse due to the "strong Black women" stereotype.
Data collected and reviewed by Rosalind shows that Southern states appear to have an increase in violence against Black women. This was even before the pandemic and those numbers have seemed to increase. And according to independent data collection, Rosalind concludes on average three Black women or girls are murdered daily. As of today, 230 victims have been recorded.
Femicide Awareness, Advocacy, And Solutions
From a micro and macro level, femicide is an epidemic. There is so much that needs to be done regarding gender-based violence against Black women and all women in the U.S. The most important thing we can do is to have these conversations often. We must be open and honest about this silent crisis in our communities. Men and women alike must acknowledge that this is a problem and urge local, state, and federal politicians to legislate for laws that protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable.
Rosalind Page also points out we can start by, "advocating for stricter sentencing guidelines, having a national Domestic Violence registry (much like the sex offender registry), making femicide a hate crime due to it being a targeted group. More groups dedicated to educating young men and women about what domestic violence looks like. How to recognize that someone may be a victim of it, and getting help. More financial assistance to organizations that help women and children get out of domestic violence situations."
These are only a few ways we can bring awareness to femicide against Black women and femicide in the United States. But it's a start.
Though I have heard stories about women being killed from my days at the district attorney's office or in the news, I personally don't know of anyone who was a victim or is a victim of gender-based violence. I can only hope that we use our voice to speak up. And that we are loud enough to be heard in this ongoing cry for help.
Stop hurting us, stop killing us, and start respecting us.
To learn more about femicide visit Black Femicide US on Facebook and Twitter or Women's Count USA.
Featured image by Getty Images
Camille is a lover of all things skin, curls, music, justice, and wanderlust; oceans and islands are her thing. Her words inspire and her power is her voice. A California native with Trinidadian roots, she has penned personal essays, interviews, and lifestyle pieces for POPSUGAR, FEMI magazine, and SelfishBabe. Camille is currently creating a life she loves through words, self-love, fitness, travel, and empowerment. You can follow her on Instagram @cam_just_living or @written_by_cam.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
If there’s one part of the face that seems to be the most vexing to correct, it’s the under eyes.
This delicate area has a way of being tipped off by our irregular sleep patterns, stress, and the straining that comes from our computers and phone screens. From puffiness to dark circles, it can be irksome to find the right products to soothe our under-eye concerns. Thankfully, there’s one solution that delivers a brighter and more awakened look over time, and that’s under-eye masks and eye patches.
Eye patches are giving our under-eye bags an eviction notice because they can’t hang our glowing faces rent-free. The beauty of these patches is that they are designed to bring your eyes targeted results through concentrated doses of active ingredients directly to the skin under the eyes. Typically made of thin, gel-like material and infused with ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, caffeine, and even green teas, these small but mighty patches depuff your puffiness, brighten your dark circles, or tighten fine lines.
While every under-eye differs in its needs, every eye can benefit from an under-eye mask or patch that suits its concerns. And to help, we’ve put together the best under-eye patches to hydrate, soothe, and brighten your eyes.
The KNC Beauty All Natural Retinol Infused Eye Mask, 5-Pack, is a retinol-infused, all-natural product designed to rejuvenate your eyes. It promises to provide hydration, smoothness, reduced puffiness, and brightness without the use of chemicals. With ingredients like retinol to refine skin texture and stimulate blood flow and aloe to soothe and reduce redness, it's like getting 8 hours of beauty sleep for your eyes.
These cooling hydrogel under-eye masks from Topicals promise to fade the appearance of dark circles and discoloration in just 15 minutes. The set includes six masks and offers benefits that brighten, hydrate, depuff, and cool your under-eye area.
Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Power Brightening Hydra-Gel Eye Patches
Grab these eye contour gel patches to brighten the eye area and combat signs of aging using a powerful form of vitamin C called THD Ascorbate, which is 50 times more potent than traditional vitamin C.
BeautyBio's Bright Eyes consists of 15 colloidal silver-infused eye gel patches designed to provide instant depuffing, brightening, and revitalization to the delicate eye area within 10 minutes. They also contain natural collagen to help diminish the appearance of fine lines, which we love.
These viral hydrogel masks offer moisture and nourishment to rejuvenate tired-looking skin. Their Snail Secretion Filtrate contains "Mucin," an effective moisturizing ingredient that soothes damaged skin and delivers deep hydration, making it suitable for dehydrated and damaged skin types. Your under-eyes will thank you.
Try these caffeine-infused patches to reduce puffiness in the under-eye area. The product features clean, vegan ingredients such as caffeine, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid for deep hydration and moisture delivery.
The Forever Eye Mask is designed to be the “last eye mask you'll ever need.” This thin, lightweight, and reusable eye patch can hold gels, serums, and creams close to the skin for better absorption, helping your skincare products work more effectively.
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Featured image by blackCAT/Getty Images