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PW 1809 Counting dead women: a review of intimate-partner femicide in australia
  1. Patricia Cullen1,2,
  2. Geraldine Vaughan1,
  3. Zhuoyang Li1,
  4. Jenna Price3,
  5. Denis Yu4,
  6. Elizabeth Sullivan1
  1. 1Australian Centre for Public and Population Health Research, The Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, Australia
  2. 2The George Institute for Global Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia
  3. 3School of Communication, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, Australia
  4. 4Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University, New York, USA


Intimate-partner femicide is a preventable cause of premature death, however in many countries the incidence is not monitored or accessible. In Australia, one woman is murdered each week at the hands of a current or former intimate-partner; however there is scant empirical evidence that investigates femicide, thus little is known about progression of violence and opportunities for intervention. The Counting Dead Women Australia (CDWA) campaign is a femicide census counting violent deaths of women in Australia from 2014.

We conducted a cross-sectional in-depth review of CDWA cases Jan-Dec 2014 to establish evidence of antecedent factors and trajectories of intimate-partner femicide. Victim (n=81) and perpetrator (n=83) data were extracted from the CDWA register, law databases and coronial reports. Mixed methods triangulation of socio-demographic and incident characteristics.

Women ranged in age from 20–82 years (44±15.8). Known perpetrators ranged in age from 16–72 years (40±12.8) and 89% were male (n=62). Where victim and perpetrator relationship was known, over half were intimate-partners (n=33). One third of cases were in the most disadvantaged Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) quintile, and this was higher among intimate-partner femicides where approximately 40% were in the most disadvantaged quintile. Intimate-partner perpetrators were more likely to have history of violence and commit murder-suicide than other perpetrators. Conversely, there were lower rates of substance misuse and criminal history among intimate-partner perpetrators.

Femicide is overwhelmingly perpetrated by males, with women most vulnerable in their own home and with their intimate-partners. High rates of perpetrator violence, mental health issues and antisocial behaviour are opportunities for early intervention within primary healthcare as practitioners are well-placed to identify victim and perpetrator risk. Perpetration of intimate-partner femicide is associated with modifiable risk factors that should be targeted through a risk-sensitive multi-sectoral approach that can be embedded within healthcare settings.

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