Gender Analysis of the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (ICCS)
The International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (ICCS) defines and codes all crimes, thus setting a framework for criminal offences that all countries can adopt when collecting data on crime. The aim is to harmonise data collection methods of countries in order to improve the quality and comparability of crime data across countries and over time.
The primary unit of classification in the ICCS is the event which constitutes a criminal offence. Each crime is given a code and crimes can also be assigned ‘attributes’ in order to further describe the event of the crime that took place, but at present without a gender perspective. While the classification is based on criminal offences, it refers to behavioural and contextual descriptions of the acts rather than legal definitions. This approach allows overcoming the issue of differences in legal definitions existing between countries. However not all elements of crimes are included, for example being able to record statistically that psychological violence is being perpetrated by a former intimate partner is, at present, difficult.
Gaps in classification of crimes
Regarding classification of crimes of different forms of violence against women, the ICCS does not have a definition / code for intimate partner violence. Specifically there is no definition for marital/intimate partner rape or physical assault against a marital/intimate partner. Code 03012 “sexual assault” includes “sexual assault committed against a marital partner against her/his will”, this does not include marital/intimate partner rape because the general definition says “not amounting to rape”, and furthermore the definition is too narrow as it only includes spouses. Under coded 020111 “serious assault”, battery and female genital mutilation are included but intimate partner violence of a physical nature is not explicitly mentioned.
There is a definition of femicide; and data collected on homicide includes detailed information about the victim/ perpetrator relationship with many possible options including current spouses or boy/girlfriends, former spouses or boy/girlfriends whether they were living together or not, family members, friends etc. Code 0101 of homicide has femicide as an inclusion category with the definition that femicide “is the Intentional killing of a woman for misogynous or gender-based reasons”. However femicide is not a sub-category in itself.
Of the EU 28 Member States 13 are legally bound to data collection standards under the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention and an additional 14 members have expressed their political willingness to be bound by them. Article 11 of the Istanbul Convention requires all state parties to collect disaggregated relevant statistical data at regular intervals on cases of all forms of violence covered by the Convention, including rape (Art. 36) and intimate-partner violence (Art. 3(b)). Femicide, however, is not expressly covered but is captured in as far as the term femicide includes women who died as the result of lethal violence, for example in the context of domestic or sexual violence.
In addition to the Istanbul Convention's general requirement to collect data on all forms of violence against women, the Explanatory Report recommends as a minimum that any data collected on the various forms of violence shall be broken down by sex, age, type of violence as well as the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim, geographical location or other factors deemed relevant by parties, such as disability. These critical data categories are referred to in the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) questionnaire, meaning all State Parties are asked to provide data disaggregated by these categories.
EIGE’s study on terminology and indicators, what is the added value?
EIGE can bring added value by expanding and building on the definitions already provided by the ICCS in order to include a gender perspective into the collection of data. This could be done by proposing further breakdowns of the ICCS structure and further inclusion/exclusion criteria to compliment what is already included in the ICCS for each classified offence. Information about different definitions included in national legislation, collected during EIGE’s study, could be helpful in ensuring the "inclusions" and "exclusions" in the ICCS for relevant crimes are as comprehensive and gender sensitive as possible.
Furthermore EIGE can provide solutions to fill in gaps where the ICCS does not have a definition for a specific crime of violence against women. A prime example is for the ICCS definition of femicide, at present femicide is only included as an “inclusion” element under the main crime of homicide. The EIGE study on Terminology and Indicators will develop a new definition of intimate partner femicide that could be taken up by the ICCS. It could also be proposed that femicide should become a sub-category in its own right i.e. 01011, with different inclusion and exclusion criteria. This would provide a gender perspective to homicide and highlight the severity of this gender-based crime which only affects women and girls.
EIGE’s guidelines to Member States and Eurostat will recommend that countries should record data on the sex and age of the victim and perpetrator, type of violence as well as the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim and geographical location as specified by the ICCS and by the Istanbul Convention. Ensuring this data are collected about victims and perpetrators of intimate partner violence (rape and femicide) would enable statistics to be collected without needing to change the legal categories of crime and also will allow the data to become more comparable. Furthermore EIGE will highlight the importance of collecting data on all offenses included in one case, not only the principal offense; otherwise other forms of violence especially non-physical are hidden.
The recent proposals by the EU to move towards signature and ratification of the Istanbul Convention are all the more reason to align any definitions and indicators to be proposed to Eurostat with the definitions and terminology used by the Istanbul Convention as the standard reference.