The Murder of a Teen Mom By Her Boyfriend is Raising a Discussion Around the Prevalence of Femicide in Abusive Relationships
On Thursday, 27-year-old Junior Fayiah Carlos was sentenced to life in prison over the violent murder of his 19-year-old girlfriend, Christine D’Cruz. According to reports, Carlos murdered D’Cruz on December 30, 2017 in her apartment in Mandurah, Perth, Australia. Carlos killed D’cruz in a fit of rage after they had been arguing about the paternity of their child, who was just weeks old. Carlos claimed that he killed D’Cruz in self-defense after she had gotten ahold of a kitchen knife and threatened him. However, prosecutors noted that he was “delusional” due to the dangerous cocktail of drugs and alcohol he was on at the time.
According to reports, Carlos was high on marijuana, methamphetamines, and sleeping pills when he stabbed her 35 times, partially decapitating her.
After he killed D’Cruz, Carlos apparently covered her with a blanket, left her in the bathroom, and fell asleep. 15 hours later, he called a friend and allegedly admitted: “she’s dead”. According to authorities, Carlos and D’Cruz had had a turbulent relationship during the two years they were together. Two weeks before D’Cruz was murdered, she had even filed a restraining order against Carlos, but continued to see him. D’Cruz’s family claims that D’Cruz had long been abusing her, citing unexplained bruises and other injuries she suffered before his death. According to records, Carlos had also been previously convicted for attacking a former partner of his.
The death of 19-year-old Christine D’Cruz is making international headlines because it shines a spotlight on the fatal violence that women universally experience at the hands of men.
Femicide–what the Oxford dictionary defines as “the killing of a woman or girl, in particular by a man and on account of her gender”–has been at the top of people’s minds in recent days. On November 3rd, women took to the streets of Mexico to march in honor of Dia de Muertas–The Day of Dead Women. The march was a tribute to the thousands of women who have died due to domestic violence in Mexico–nine every day. The activists staged the march to be right after Mexico’s famous Dia de Muertos in order to bring awareness to the public health crisis that plagues Mexico and, indeed, countries across the world.
According to the World Health Organization, femicide is usually “committed by partners or ex-partners, and involves ongoing abuse in the home, threats or intimidation, sexual violence or situations where women have less power or fewer resources than their partner”. The same study revealed that while only 5% of all murders of men are committed by an intimate partner, 35% of all murders of women globally are reported to be committed by an intimate partner.
It’s also notable that although D’Cruz had seemingly taken steps towards ending the relationship (i.e. taking out a restraining order against Carlos), she still kept seeing him in private.
As domestic violence activist Beverly Gooden revealed before in her viral Twitter hashtag campaign #WhyIStayed, there are a myriad of reasons why women stay in abusive relationships. “It’s not easy to leave when you remember how it used to be, or when they romance you during the good times,” Gordon stated on her website. “Or when they promise it is the last time. Because you believe in love and you believe in them”.
Emotional reasons aren’t the only reasons women stay in abusive relationships. They also do out of fear for their lives. According to the 2018 Femicide Census, “55% of the women killed by their ex-partner or ex-spouse in 2017 were killed within the first month of separation and 87% in the first year”. For women, sometimes staying seems like the safer option.
Since Carlos’s sentencing, D’Cruz’s family is now teaming up with domestic violence groups to seek an inquest into the way the authorities handled the murder of their daughter.
Although Carlos is headed to jail, the family is still suffering from what they feel was a mishandling of their daughter’s murder case. Although Carlos was sentenced to life in prison, he will be eligible for parole in just 19 years. Although we can’t read the minds of the parents of Christine D’Cruz, we can’t help but wonder if they consider the possibility of such a brief sentence as justice for the lost life of their daughter.
According to the family’s impact statements at the time of the trial, D’Cruz’s family is devastated and plagued by grief at the death of their beloved daughter. They expressed sorrow that their granddaughter would now grow up without a mother. They revealed that D’Cruz had dreams of working in childcare. The judge in the case revealed that D’Cruz’s father still “looked around for his daughter even though he knew she was dead”.