A modern disease : the social impact of the criminalization of women thinking

The Social Impact of the Criminalization of Women’s Thinking :

Investigative journalists, critical academics, female activists, intellectuals and political leaders under a hail of bullets


This analysis based on the observation of the systemic and structural violence against women generated by State and institutions aims at showing the processes and procedures of exclusion of women scientists leading to the repression of the expression of their identities, roles and leadership in the public space with the use of abusive politics, everyday sexism and police brutality.

The experience of the woman as a scientist and at borders recorded during 5 years shapes an analysis of the structures of influence and power at play with the systemic violence embodied by attackers of women scientists’ representations, images and public appearances in media, politics and society, in western societies and non-western societies.

Apart of situations of inequality, and unfair treatment at work, at home or in street, produced by the common and abusive categorizations of women’s active roles in society, this analysis aims at showing how these processes conduct to the silencing and erasure of women’s contributions in different fields as journalism, social activism, social development, business or emergent markets.

These logics of domination and social exclusion based on discrimination and gender bias and the constant disputes over their status and legitimacy as scientists and leaders erode the benefits of their social works by excluding the richness and value of their works (Di Chiro, 2004), prejudicing the emergence or protection of alternative markets and alternative economies.

Through the use of our methodology (Debaveye, 2012), we identified two main categories of criminalisation and exploitation :

  • Intellectual professions as : journalists, researchers, academics or scientists who seem to be more at stake with the issue as women in leadership are both being more visible in social networks and media and more associated with notions of economic empowerment
  • Migrant women, displaced women and women in transit as they become targets of violence while being far from home and exposed to trafficking or sexual violence.
  • Intertwinned categories

We argue that these categories of women are being intensively tracked and criminalized to then be subjugated to the purpose of economic exploitation as « there are not place anymore for social relations to be expressed as the situations involved a loss in sociality, be it, for situations of war opposing the national interests of two countries, or states of advanced capitalism in which economical transactions have been substituted to the human and social relation ».http://juliedebaveye.com/copenhagen-the-resilient-city-for-a-woman-entrepreneur/

The document provided is generated by qualitative and quantitative data obtained through a period of 5 years observation and via social media analytics (see my previous works). It allowed us to underline patterns of persecution towards women leaders so to produce a list of situations in which women are confronted with violence and exclusion.

By combining fieldnotes and quantitative sets of data as well as stats from global reports, human rights watchdogs and mainstream media (Guardian, local papers, HRW, Amnesty, UN), I then drew a parallel between the qualitative experiences of women described in stories and some proeminent global threats that women intellectuals are facing today exposed by watchdogs. I finally established scores of criticality for every situation in real-time by crossing datasets and analysis.

Data were collected through two main processes :

One main process resulted from a synthesis of the narratives and fieldnotes I recorded publicly during my practice over the past 5 years and a list of situations I’ve established.

The second process is obtained with the collection of quantitative measures taken from several global reports (UN, HRW) and media sources and ranged under the typology.

Giving the accuracy of my findings and its convergence with quantitative results, I didn’t have to refine my results and findings but I might say that the extended period of 5 years observation (pretty rare in research) allowed me to verify results and findings in very different contexts and situations as there wasn’t many variations.

The table I have produced is focused on the last past years and reveals the specificity of women targeted violence following geographical area/countries.

As there are obvious similarities between both sets of data, the results obtained allow us to raise awareness about a level of criticality regarding risks encountered for women intellectuals and critics through their public activities that is a call for helping decisioners and main political leaders into taking decisive actions.

Table 1 :

The criminalization of women in western and non-western societies (2015-2018)


This mixed methods model is flexible and can serve many types of different data and purposes but it is better adaptable with small, idiosynchrasic sets of data and trendings phenomenon in emergent data or suited for qualitative observations about broader events.

Of course, the goal is not to convert the richness of our qualitative findings into numerical value that could bias our data collection but to provide an indice that can be actionnable for policy makers about levels of criticality. It is obtained by combining multiple factors.

In this peculiar case, there is no possibility to generalize the research because we lack access to critical information that is not being made accessible by governments and officials about the global number of victims or potentially biased reports. We thus have to ground our findings on pieces of information produced by grassroots groups or local organizations, and rely more heavily on our qualitative intuitions in situations of risk and uncertainty.

Notes :

There were some data that cannot be obtained as there were not produced yet by any official organization or watchdog.

Most news coverage and reports about violence against women worldwide were taken from the Guardian for South America and UN Report for the Middle East.

The reports about police brutality against women during G20 in 2010 are reported in most of the canadian press as well as in a paper I have published in 2012.

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  1. Ping : Copenhagen | Julie Debaveye, Philosophiae Doctor in new media & technology

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