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Gendercide is the systematic killing of members of a specific gender.[1] The term is related to the general concepts of assault and murder against victims due to their gender, with violence against women and men being problems dealt with by human rights efforts. Gendercide shares similarities with the term 'genocide' in inflicting mass murders; however, gendercide targets solely one gender, being men or women. Politico-military frameworks have historically inflicted militant-governed divisions between femicide and androcide; gender-selective policies increase violence on gendered populations due to their socioeconomic significance. Certain cultural and religious sentiments have also contributed to multiple instances of gendercide across the globe.


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The term gendercide was first coined by American feminist Mary Anne Warren in her 1985 book, Gendercide: The Implications of Sex Selection. It refers to gender-selective mass killing. Warren drew "an analogy between the concept of genocide" and what she called "gendercide". In her book, Warren wrote:

By analogy, gendercide would be the deliberate extermination of persons of a particular sex (or gender). Other terms, such as "gynocide" and "femicide," have been used to refer to the wrongful killing of girls and women. Nevertheless, "gendercide" is a sex-neutral term in that the victims may be either male or female. There is a need for such a sex-neutral term since sexually discriminatory killing is just as wrong when the victims happen to be male. The term also calls attention to the fact that gender roles have often had lethal consequences and that these are in important respects analogous to the lethal consequences of racial, religious, and class prejudice.[1]


Main article: Femicide

See also: Violence against women

See also: Missing Women and Female infanticide

Memorial plaque in Berlin for Nuriye Bekir, who was murdered in an "honor" killing
Memorial plaque in Berlin for Nuriye Bekir, who was murdered in an "honor" killing
Memorial plaque for Hatun Sürücü in Berlin. The Kurdish woman from Turkey was murdered at the age of 23 by her brothers in an "honor" killing.
Memorial plaque for Hatun Sürücü in Berlin. The Kurdish woman from Turkey was murdered at the age of 23 by her brothers in an "honor" killing.

Femicide is defined as the systematic killing of women for various reasons, usually cultural. The word is attested from the 1820s.[2] According to the United Nations, the biologically normal sex ratio at birth ranges from 102 to 106 males per 100 females. However, ratios higher than normal – sometimes as high as 130 – have been observed. This is now causing increasing concern in some South Asian, East Asian, and Central Asian countries.[3] Such disparities almost always reflect a preference for boys as a result of deeply embedded social, cultural, political and economic factors.

The most widespread form of femicide is in the form of gender-selective infanticide in cultures with strong preferences for males such as China and India. According to the United Nations, male-to-female ratios have experienced radical changes from the normal range.[3] Gendercide of girls is reported to be a rising problem in several countries. Census statistics report that in countries such as China, the male to female ratio is as high as 120 men for every 100 women.[4] Many experts attribute such a ratio to institutions such as China’s one-child policy. Female heirs were considered less desirable than male heirs, and subsequently abandoned and eliminated in mass.[5] Gendercide also takes the forms of infanticide and lethal violence against a particular gender at any stage of life. The World Bank describes violence against girls and women as a "global pandemic". One in three women experiences gender-based violence in their lifetime. In research released in 2019, 38% of murdered women were killed by an intimate partner.[6]

Sex ratios at birth over time in China:[7]

In India, parents may prefer male children because they desire heirs who will care for them in their old age. Other instances of female infanticide are carried out in belief that the female children are better off not being alive, so as to not “[suffer]”.[8] Additionally, the cost of a dowry – the family's price for their daughter to be married off – is very high in India, making a female child undesirable, while a male heir would bring a dowry to the family by way of marriage. According to the British publication, The Independent, the 2011 census revealed 7.1 million fewer girls than boys aged under the age of seven, up from 6 million in 2001 and from 4.2 million in 1991. The sex ratio in the age group is now 915 girls to 1,000 boys (109 boys for every 100 girls), the lowest since records began in 1961.[9]

The honor killing and self-immolation condoned or tolerated by the Kurdish administration in Iraqi Kurdistan has been labeled as "gendercide" by Mojab (2003).[10][11]

There have been reports of femicide in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico,[12] where 411 assassinations of women were qualified as serial and/or of sexual characteristic, by domestic violence, intimate femicides and hatred against women.[13] The response to these murders has included the criminalisation of feminicide in the country.[14]

Contemporary mechanisms of gendercide lie within sexualized violence against women; the females of "sub-Saharan Africa (Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola) in areas that are also at the heart of the "AIDS belt",[15] are not only at-risk due to living in places where there are "current cases of large-scale rape",[15] but are also susceptible to contracting HIV. Less popularized tactics of gendercide against women include the systemic withholding of critical medical, and nutritional care, predominantly occurring "across the belt of "deep patriarchy" extending from East through West Asia and into Northern Africa";[16] here. Adam Jones, a co-founder of Gendercide Watch, an online research platform created to spread awareness, estimates that the denial of healthcare for women equates to approximately the same toll as that of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide per year.[16]

Over 200,000 die from bleeding, with many giving birth in buses or bullock carts. Lack of health education restricts commonplace medical knowledge; thus, bystanders are unable to offer assistance. In addition, the casualty rate from self-administered abortions is roughly 75,000. Eclampsia, a condition possible pre-, during, and post-childbirth, is characterized by seizures due to high blood pressure, and its effects kill another 75,000 through damage to the brain and kidneys. Moreover, 100,000 die from sepsis, contracted through untreated infections of the uterus and remaining fragments of the placenta that poison the bloodstream. Also, female casualties due to labor obstructions stagger around the 400,000 range.[citation needed]

Female genital mutilation also proves itself a form of gendercide, with at least 200 million girls and women having been cut in 31 different countries, most prominently in MENA countries.[17] The practice has shown to have both fatal immediate and long-term complications. Immediate complications include infection, bleeding, urinary problems, and long-term complications include vaginal and menstrual problems, decreased sexual satisfaction, and complications with childbirth, including the increased risk of newborn deaths.[18]

Additionally, women have historically been the victims of sexual violence, and rape has been repeatedly used as both a weapon of war, and a form of genocide. For example, “between the months of January and August of 1945,” there were over “1.4 million” reported “rape cases.” Subsequently, some “200,000 girls and women” died because of sexually transmitted diseases.[19][20]

Adam Jones drafted possible solutions to aid the crisis in Africa. He concluded treatment "would mean training some 850,000 health workers, according to UNICEF and World Health Organization reports, as well as [funding] the necessary drugs and equipment. The total cost would be US $200 million, about the price of half a dozen jet fighters".[16]


Main article: Androcide

See also: Violence against men

See also: Male expendability

Pharaoh and the Midwives, James Tissot c. 1900. In Exodus 1:15-21, Puah and Shiphrah were commanded by Pharaoh to kill all of the newborn baby boys, but they disobeyed.
Pharaoh and the Midwives, James Tissot c. 1900. In Exodus 1:15-21, Puah and Shiphrah were commanded by Pharaoh to kill all of the newborn baby boys, but they disobeyed.

Androcide is the systematic killing of men or boys for various reasons, usually cultural.[21] Androcide may happen during war to reduce an enemy's potential pool of soldiers. According to the Global Justice Center, perpetrators of genocide often target men and boys first or give them greater priority, and they may also suffer "other acts of violence ... such as torture, rape, and enslavement" that tend to be obscured by a focus on the killings themselves.[22]

Examples include the 1988 Anfal campaign against Kurdish males that were considered "battle-aged" (or approximately ages 15–50)[23][24] in Iraqi Kurdistan. While many of these deaths took place after the Kurdish men were captured and processed at a concentration camp, the worst instances of the gendercide happened at the end of the campaign (August 25 – September 6, 1988).[25]

Another incident of androcide was the Srebrenica massacre of approximately 8,000 Bosniak men and boys on July 12, 1995, ruled as an act of genocide by the International Court of Justice.[26][27] From the morning of July 12, Serb forces began gathering men and boys from the refugee population in Potočari and holding them in separate locations, and as the refugees began boarding the buses headed north towards Bosniak-held territory, Serb soldiers separated men of military age who were trying to clamber aboard. Occasionally, younger and older men were stopped (some as young as 14 or 15).[28][29][30]

Individual men also fall victim to honor killings. Male honor killings are often carried out by family members to prevent dishonor from falling onto families; reasons for male honor killings range from sexuality to gender identity.[31][32]

According to genocide scholar Adam Jones, "non-combatant men have been and continue to be the most frequent targets of mass killing and genocidal slaughter, as well as a host of lesser atrocities and abuses."[33]

Third gender

Gendercide against third gender people is the systemic killing of people who do not fit within the Western gender binary. Deborah Miranda uses the term gendercide to identify the Spanish colonial practice of systemically targeting joyas (the Spanish term for third gender people) in an attempt to exterminate them.[34] Qwo-Li Driskill writes how this violence was waged against people now understood as two-spirit.[35]

In 1513, Spanish explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa encountered about forty Indigenous men dressed as women. He commanded his soldiers to execute them through making them prey for their war dogs, which were specially bred mastiffs or greyhounds. They were dismembered and eaten alive by the dogs. Third gender people from around the area were rounded up in service of Spanish authority. Miranda writes that "the Spanish had made it clear that to tolerate, harbor, or associate with the third gender meant death."[34]

In his 1775 memoir, Spanish soldier Pedro Fages wrote that about two or three joyas could be identified in each Indigenous Californian village and were "held in great esteem" in their communities. Fages sought to initiate a swift reduction of the joyas, writing "we place our trust in God and expect that these accursed people will disappear with the growth of the missions. The abominable vice will be eliminated to the extent that the Catholic faith and all the other virtues are firmly implanted there, for the glory of God and the benefit of those poor ignorants."[34]

Gendercide by region


In Europe, there are many different types of gendercide.

Most recent instances of mass gendercide in Europe have resulted from sociopolitical motions, as “military strategies.” For example, during the 1999 war in Kosovo, “battle age” ethnic-Albanian men were detained and killed in mass as a part of a “Serb military strategy.”[36]

Historically, from the 15th to the 18th century, girls, women, and some men fell victim to the frenzied cultural phenomena of witch-hunts. It is estimated that upwards of 100,000 trials took place, and from those trials, 60,000 individuals were executed.[37]

Individual instances of gendercide also continue to permeate European society, ranging to individual murders, honor killings, to war-related deaths.


When compared to Europe, Asia has a staggeringly different sex-ratio. In Qatar, a middle-eatern country, there are a reported 299 males for every 100 females. This ratio can likely be credited to the pervading cultural sentiment of males being more desirable than females.[38] Men are seen as more useful, and women as costly burdens. Such sentiments have lead to increased rates of female infanticide across the continent, especially in countries such as India.[39]

And though honor killings occur everywhere, they occur most commonly in Asian countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.[40] Experts explain that such murders are performed in order to protect the cultural concept of familial honor; things dishonorable enough to warrant such actions can range from sexuality, divorce, to gender identity.[41]


Gendercide across Africa is as ranged as any other country. Gendercide through systematic governmental efforts have been carried out across African countries over the centuries. For example, there exists the Rwandan genocide in which 800,000 were killed, and 250,000 girls and women were systematically raped by individuals infected with HIV/AIDs virus, resulting in even more death, and a continued issue with the disease even to this day.[42]

Gendercide also exists in Africa through the form of female genital mutilation–a procedure performed on both infants and girls that can result in numerous immediate and longterm complications and even death.

Similarly to Europe, witch-hunts prove a form of gendercide across Africa. It is reported that both men and women fall victim to witch-hunts, but women are more heavily targeted.[43]

In fiction

See also: Dystopian fiction and Single-gender world

The parodic film Gayniggers from Outer Space follows a group of intergalactic homosexual black men as they exterminate the female population of the Earth, eventually creating a utopic Male-only world.[44]

The 2003 film Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women, an Indian movie directed by Manish Jha, features a dystopian situation resulting in 2050 from accumulated violence against women over many years. A wealthy man in one village discovers the existence of a young woman not too far from his home, and he buys the woman as a sex slave to be used by him and his sons. In this wretched town in which only men exist aside from her, the wealthy man's family is torn apart while the victim finds herself mercilessly dominated by more men. The film received critical acclaim, with the frank nature of the brutality and despair portrayed being cited by many reviewers, and it sparked increased debate over the contemporary problem of rape in India and other human rights issues in the nation.[45]

The 1985 book The Handmaid's Tale depicts a story of a fascist military dictatorship controlled by a clique of theocratic ideologues. With the population of both men and women having been vastly cut down, fertile women are relatively scarce and mass numbers of non-fertile women are forced into becoming unpersons. Fertile women are regarded as property with few rights, being unable to read and do other basic activities. Canadian author Margaret Atwood created the work as a warning about totalitarianism and oppression of women in the modern age; in particular, she had experienced a fellowship in the then divided Berlin in the early 1980s, visiting the Soviet-dominated areas and witnessing a general despair, which helped inspire the book's beginnings.[46][47][48]

In The Walking Dead (TV series), Oceanside's backstory is that the Saviors rounded up and executed every man and boy over 10. It is not until the penultimate episode of season 8 that it is revealed to have all been orchestrated by Simon and not Negan.

The comic book Y: The Last Man features all male mammals dying from a mysterious global affliction, aside from one surviving man named Yorick and his monkey. After this, a violently misandrist group called the Daughters of the Amazon seeks to kill Yorick, believing that men caused most of the world's former problems, with hostile attitudes to all male impersonators and trans men as well, viewing them as traitors to the female sex. These themes were repeated in the 2021 TV series based on the comic book.

See also


  1. ^ a b Warren, Mary Anne (1985-01-01). Gendercide: The Implications of Sex Selection. ISBN 978-0-8476-7330-8.
  2. ^ 'femicide' at Origin of femicide: First recorded in 1820–30 accessed 8 September 2019
  3. ^ a b United Nations Population Fund 2011. accessed 8 September 2019
  4. ^ The Economist. The War on Baby Girls: Gendercide. 4 March 2010
  5. ^ Soken-Huberty, Emmaline (2020-04-18). "What is Gendercide?". Human Rights Careers. Retrieved 2022-12-01.
  6. ^ "What is Gendercide?". Human Rights Careers. 2020-04-18. Retrieved 2020-09-30.
  7. ^ "All Girls Allowed. Gendercide in China Statistics Statistics About Gendercide in China". Archived from the original on 2019-03-27. Retrieved 2012-03-22.
  8. ^ "Girls killed at birth in some poor parts of India". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2022-11-29.
  9. ^ Laurence, Jeremy: The full extent of India's 'gendercide' The Independent, accessed 8 September 2019
  10. ^ Shahrzad Mojab. (2003). Kurdish Women in the Zone of Genocide and Gendercide. Al-Raida 21(103): 20–25. "Kurdish Women in the Zone of Genocide and Gendercide- Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-06-16. Retrieved 2016-04-16.
  11. ^ Nadje al-Ali and Nicola Pratt: Between Nationalism and Women’s Rights: The Kurdish Women’s Movement in Iraq, accessed 8 September 2019
  12. ^ "Mexico: Justice fails in Ciudad Juárez and the city of Chihuahua". Amnesty International. 28 February 2005. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  13. ^ "Feminicidio". INEGI. Encuentro Internacional de Estadística de Género. Archived from the original on 28 March 2010. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  14. ^ Garita Vílchez, Ana Isabel. "Cuadro No.6. Elementos del tipo penal. Chile. Código Penal" (PDF). La regulación del delito de feminicidio/feminicio en América Latina y El Caribe (in Spanish). Ciudad de Panamá, Panamá. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-936291-74-8. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  15. ^ a b Adam Jones (2000) Gendercide and genocide, Journal of Genocide Research, 2:2, 185-211, DOI: 10.1080/713677599
  16. ^ a b c Jones, Adam (March 2013). "Gendercide: Examining gender-based crimes against women and men". Clinics in Dermatology. 31 (2): 226–229. doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2011.09.001. PMID 23438385.
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  18. ^ "Female genital mutilation". Retrieved 2022-11-29.
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  22. ^ Ashraph, Sareta; Radhakrishnan, Akila. "BEYOND KILLING: Gender, Genocide, & Obligations Under International Law" (PDF). Global Justice Centre. p. 12. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021.
  23. ^ Whatever Happened To The Iraqi Kurds? Human Rights Watch Report, 1991, accessed 8 September 2019
  24. ^ Dave Johns: The Crimes of Saddam Hussein, 1980 The Fayli Kurds, accessed 8 September 2019
  25. ^ Hardi, Choman (2011). Gendered Experiences of Genocide: Anfal Survivors in Kurdistan-Iraq. Ahgate. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-0754677154.
  26. ^ Srebrenica Timeline, accessed 8 September 2019
  27. ^ Serbians Still Divided Over Srebrenica Massacre, accessed 8 September 2019
  28. ^ "Separation of boys, ICTY Potocari" 26 July 2000, accessed 8 September 2019
  29. ^ "Separation, ICTY Sandici" Archived 2019-03-17 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ "Separation, ICTY" 11 July 1995 accessed 8 September 2019
  31. ^ "Gay Iranian man dead in alleged 'honor killing,' rights group says". NBC News. Retrieved 2022-11-29.
  32. ^ "A Dark History: Honor Killings of Iran's LGBTQ Citizens". Retrieved 2022-11-29.
  33. ^ Adam, Jones (2000). "Gendercide and Genocide". Journal of Genocide Research. 2 (2): 185–211. doi:10.1080/713677599. S2CID 143867857.
  34. ^ a b c Miranda, Deborah (2010). "Extermination of the Joyas: Gendercide in Spanish California". GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. 16 (1–2): 255–260. doi:10.1215/10642684-2009-022. S2CID 145480469 – via Project MUSE.
  35. ^ Qwo-Li, Driskill (2016). Asegi Stories: Cherokee Queer and Two-Spirit Memory. University of Arizona Press. p. 54. ISBN 9780816533640.
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  37. ^ "Gendercide Watch: European Witch-Hunts". Retrieved 2022-12-01.
  38. ^ "Countries by Sex Ratio 2022". Retrieved 2022-12-01.
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  40. ^ "Honour Killings By Region". Retrieved 2022-12-01.
  41. ^ Janjua, Haroon (2022-03-15). "The horror of honor killings". Asia Democracy Chronicles. Retrieved 2022-12-01.
  42. ^ "Factbox: Rwanda remembers the 800,000 killed on 25th anniversary of genocide". Reuters. 2019-04-06. Retrieved 2022-12-01.
  43. ^ "Witch-hunts in contemporary sub-Saharan Africa". Gendercide. Retrieved 2022-12-01.
  44. ^ "Gayniggers from Outer Space (1992)". Elitisti. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  45. ^ "Where women are extinct: Matrubhoomi". Indian Express. 23 July 2005. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  46. ^ Robertson, Adi (December 20, 2014). "Does The Handmaid's Tale hold up?". The Verge. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  47. ^ Bradley J. Birzer (June 13, 2015). "A Decadent Hell Hole: The Dystopia of "A Handmaid's Tale"". The Imaginative Conservative. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  48. ^ Margaret Atwood (20 January 2012). "Haunted by The Handmaid's Tale". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 August 2015.

Further reading