When democracy weakens, women suffer: understanding the relationship between democratic backsliding and femicide

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Different countries are experiencing an increase of femicide, which is the killing of women, primarily by men, because they are women. Next to this, democratic backsliding has become a global trend as more countries are gradually sliding back in to authoritarian regimes. This research investigates whether democratic backsliding leads to more femicide cases. It also investigates the causal mechanisms, by using mediation models with the variables repression of civil society organizations, reversing of gender equality policies, and the undermining of the rule of law. The regression analysis showed that the main hypothesis, arguing that democratic backsliding leads to a higher rate of femicide, was not supported, as no significant effect was found. The mediation hypotheses could therefore not be supported either, as there was no statistically significant main effect. However, the analyses were still done to check for indirect effects and this showed that the repression of civil society organizations and the reversing of gender equality policies leads to an increase of femicide. This research further showed that using a quantitative method with the dependent variable femicide comes with challenges, as different definitions for femicide are used in different countries. Next to this, the data suggested that some authoritarian regimes might be window dressing as they had the lowest femicide scores. This all affected the results of the research, a universal approach regarding measuring femicide is needed for more reliable quantitative research.
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