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Why do we always ask why men commit acts of violence, instead of asking why they don't allow it?

Against misogyny
Forfatter: Christina Clemm
Forlag: Hanser, (Tyskland)
FEMICID / Murders of women do not only occur structurally and not only based on misogynistic motives – they are also largely trivialized or go unpunished.


A new book about hating women – do we really need more of it? Haven't we come a long way and otherwise agree? Error. Christina Clemm is a lawyer with criminal and family law as her main field. She has represented victims of sexualisation vold for more than 25 years and knows what she is talking about in the book Against misogyny. There she describes how gender-related violence is rooted in societal structures. She disputes the notion of the deplorable single incident within the four walls of the home, there womann ends up in the emergency department before she returns to long-stemmed roses and a repentant sinner.

It can be demanding reading, not because the author lacks arguments or gets lost in emotionality. What is more important is the sober presentation of evidence, in combination with the amount of case-based suffering history. Clemm has its field of activity in Germany. On the conditions in Italy, see MODERN TIMES' article "Femicide as a fairy tale".

Norwegian statistics give little reason for comfort. "For every man who is killed by his female partner [in Norway], seven women are exposed to massive violence with a fatal outcome," says forensic psychiatrist Pål Grøndahl to Christina Clemm estimates that every third woman in Germany experiences physical and/or sexualized violence in a partnership. On average, 135 women are killed here every year. She introduces us to Lisa M.

The case of Lisa

Lisa's death is mentioned in a local newspaper some time after the murder. For TV, the case is not spectacular enough. The perpetrator has been arrested, a typical 'relationship crime'. All who know the murdered man wonder; no one had predicted such a 'family drama'. He was friendly, a good employer, not a violent man. It seemed strange that the wife had suddenly left and taken the children with her.

In the beginning, everything is good. Lisa and Mirko fall in love. He is proud of her, although he is also irritated by Lisa and her 'super intellectual' friends. He himself is more technically interested. When he suggests setting up her smartphone with a tracking app, she thinks it's caring. However, Mirko increasingly finds fault with Lisa. How she looks, how she behaves. Lisa considers ending the relationship and blames herself. When she tells him that her employer has offered her a promotion, he cracks up. He scolds her, hits her and spits as she falls to the floor. Afterwards, he asks for forgiveness.

"For every man who is killed by his female partner [in Norway], seven women are exposed to massive violence with a fatal outcome."

Soon Lisa is pregnant, and Mirko is thrilled. She gives up her work. Mirko excuses his increasing aggressiveness with stress at work. She understands. Child number two is on the way. Lisa tells Mirko that now is her last chance to finish her education. He loses his temper, knocks her down. She doesn't tell anyone about it. Develops sleep problems and panic attacks. She understands that one day Mirko will kill her. She flees with the children to a shelter. Lisa will soon have to appear before the family court, as Mirko wants to take the children to him. Lisa does not dare report him for all the mistreatment. She fears his revenge and doesn't expect to be believed either. "We take all the violence you describe very seriously," it says from all sides, "but it has nothing to do with the children, who obviously miss their father." Lisa gives in and agrees to Mirko's terms. She has kept the smartphone with the tracking app. She moves back, the abuse continues, now also towards the children. She flees again, letting Mirko know that she has evidence against him. She has a secret whereabouts, but does not succeed in being included in a high-risk program. The crimes are not serious enough, according to the police. Mirko has no problem finding Lisa.

In the process after the death, he explains that he just wanted to talk, reconcile with her. But she had only screamed hysterically and suddenly pulled out a knife. He had grabbed this and stabbed her with it, completely out of his mind, seven times. When he ran away, she was still alive.


The book's detailed description of Lisa's story is no isolated case. Lisa is also not a real person. Christina Clemm has created her based on the facts surrounding an average client throughout the years. It's about femicide, killing women due to the fact that they are women. Clemm defines 'misogyny' as an emotional mindset based on dislike of women. The typical type of murderer, the (ex)husband, resorts to stabbing, strangulation, shooting – the victim is beaten to death, completely acid-washed, burned.

Handcuffing perpetrators has been a preventive tool.

The physical violence these women are subjected to corresponds in a more subtle way with the treatment they receive from the society that was supposed to protect them. Clemm quotes the Mexican politician Marcela Lagarde: “Killing of women is not only structural and not only based on misogynistic motives; they are also largely trivialized or go unpunished.”

Reverse violence alarm

Lawyer Clemm calls the negligent system 'patriarchy' and clarifies: "Criminal law is also characterized by different power relations between the sexes, where men's interests are decisive. In Germany, there are too few guidance centres, far too few shelters for women, there is no comprehensive high-risk assessment, i.e. assessment of how dangerous potential perpetrators are." And she wonders: "Why doesn't the population sound more alarm when once again a woman has been brutally killed? And why do we always ask why men commit acts of violence, instead of asking why they do not allow it – and why they are not prevented from doing so?"

On this point, there is now some movement to be traced in Norway. Reverse violence alarm is relevant: "It is unreasonable that it is the woman who is exposed to threats, who must wear the alarm," says Prime Minister Støre to NRK. Handcuffing violent men has been a preventive tool since 2013, but limited to men who have already been convicted. Now the law will be softened from 1 July, so the police will be able to take the measure without having to go through a delaying court. Unfortunately, July 1 is also the date when, three years ago, Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe's convention on preventing and combating violence against women. Germany's largest immigrantgroup originates from Turkey.

Migration background

Unsurprisingly, the most precarious examples of institutional neglect in the author's field of activity are women with an immigrant background. Here the victims suffer to a greater extent (than the Lisa M type) from the neglect of their anxiety, the ignoring of language problems, weak follow-up and tacit support for the abusive partner, who knows how to exploit his superior position and the widespread perception of 'family dramas' as a private matter .

Ranveig Eckhoff
Ranveig Eckhoff
Eckhoff is a regular reviewer for Ny Tid.

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