Femicides in Europe

Illustration by Una Rebić/Pod črto

News reports from around the continent suggested that the Covid-19 pandemic was not only a time of public health emergency and isolation, but also of rising cases of violence against women and femicides. After 2018, no official data about these phenomena was published at a European level however.

That’s why 16 members of EDJNet, coordinated by the Mediterranean Institute for Investigative Reporting, decided to shed light on the numbers, trends, and facts concerning violence against women in Europe, so as to build an up-to-date map of the issue. We did it by requesting data to the national authorities and by assembling it, trying to fill as many gaps as possible.

Main findings:

  • There is a staggering lack of up-to-date data and of data coming with similar characteristics, thus comparable between countries. Data recently published by state actors comes with significant gaps.
  • The total number of femicides from 2010 to 2021 in the 20 countries providing data is estimated at 3,232. The figure is a sign of serious underreporting by police authorities however, as Eurostat data recorded 6,593 intentional homicides of women in 2011-21 (not all of them are femicides, but most probably are).
  • Greece had the highest increase in femicides during the pandemic, with an increase of 187.5% from 8 victims in 2020 to 23 in 2021. In the last few years, femicides have been rising dramatically in Sweden as well. Sexual, economic and online abuses have also increased in several countries.
  • The negligence of law enforcement authorities is also an issue: in Greece, for instance, 2020 data shows that only 71% of the 4,436 perpetrators of domestic violence against women were prosecuted. Of these, 21% were convicted, but only 14% of them actually went to prison.
  • The adoption of an EU directive to combat violence against women and domestic violence has been pending since March 2022. The directive proposes to make data collection mandatory across the EU, as the extent of violence is not sufficiently recorded and communicated.

The data unit

Janine Louloudi (MIIR, coordinator)
Janine Louloudi is a journalist at the Mediterranean Institute for Investigative Reporting, based in Athens. She is also a producer of documentary and news programmes.
EDJNet members which took part in this investigation:

Investigace , Atlatszo , and Noteworthy also contributed to the investigation.


This unprecedented cross-border investigation, conducted with the participation of 18 newsrooms across Europe, attempts to shed light on femicides and rising violence against women at the time of the pandemic, as well as on the staggering shortage of up-to-date data on these phenomena.

Femicide is the murder of a woman because of their gender. We have reconstructed the incidence of femicide in Italy and Europe, notwithstanding the many difficulties in measuring the phenomenon. In Italy in 2022, women were the victims of 91 percent of homicides committed by family members, partners or former partners.

Between 800 and 1,600 a year, but there is no standard definition or comparable data between countries. A directive proposed a year ago makes it compulsory to collect this information across the European Union.

An exclusive data analysis by 19 media outlets reveals another dark side to the pandemic: a marked increase in murders of women, and violence against women, at the hands of domestic partners. The investigation also highlights serious flaws in the way institutions monitor this type of abuse.

Compared to the rest of Europe, the number of homicides in Italy is low and the number of male victims has decreased sharply over the years. But the same cannot be said of women. Meanwhile, at the European level, the heterogeneity of homicide classifications makes counting femicides difficult.