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But since it involves mere females, there was no name for it until Carol Orlock invented the word 'femicide.'" According to the Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, "...[Femicide] is proposed as an alternative to the gender-neutral term of 'homicide'.As such, it seeks to highlight the killing of women for being women, a phenomenon linked closely with sexual violence enacted to punish, blame and control the actions, emotions and behaviour of women." Feminists and proponents of the word believe it is prudent to make the distinction between homicide and femicide.This includes forms of covert femicide as well, such as criminalization of abortion that leads to death from unsafe abortions, or death as a result of female genital mutilation.One of the most common and least publicized forms of femicide is that committed by an intimate partner of a female, such as a current or former husband, boyfriend or common-law husband.Proponents of the term [femicide] claim that using "gendercide" benefits patriarchal power structures by preventing women from naming the violence specifically used against them and recognizing the various forms it can take.They also claim that using "gendercide" points to the largely taboo nature of femicide.The current usage emerged with the 1970s feminist movements, which aimed to raise feminine consciousness and resistance against gender oppression.

For example, the Middle East and South Asia have higher rates of honor killing which is defined as the murder of women by their family due to an actual or assumed sexual or behavioral transgression such as adultery, sexual intercourse, or even rape.

The distinction is not meant to denigrate or render invisible the murder of men because they make up 80% of the victims of global murders and are the vast majority of perpetrators.

Femicide is distinct from general homicide because the instances occur in domestic settings as a result of intimate partner or family violence, while policies targeting homicide often "...focus on street violence and organized crime, leaving aside domestic violence." A common critique of femicide cites the preferred use of "gendercide," which is more gender-neutral and more widely applicable.

Whenever these forms of terrorism result in death, they become femicides." She includes covert killings of women as well, such as the mass murder of female babies due to male preference in cultures such as India and China, as well as deaths related to the failure of social institutions, such as the criminalization of abortion or the prevalence of female genital mutilation.

Another term used is feminicide, which is properly formed from the Latin femina, meaning "woman" ("femicide" being truncated).

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