What does it look like, this equality that you speak of?

To everyone – woman and man – who says they’re a feminist because they believe in equality, I have to ask you, what does it look like, this equality that you speak of?

Gender.  You probably want gender equality, don’t you?  But gender is inequality. Gender is the convenient invention, the way we train women and men to be different, to be unequal. Gender equality is a smokescreen. Gender is a hierarchy.  Feminine, masculine, they can never be equal, they are subordination and domination dressed up in frilly pink and crisp blue.

You mean wage equality, right? Are you going to achieve that by equal pay for equal work? Yes? Or no? ‘Cos that’ll never do it.  Work has no inherent value and just somehow, we’ve ended up with women’s work undervalued, so unless we all do more of the same, or unless we increase the value of what we see as ‘women’s work’, we’re stuck.  Wage equality without radical reform, is an impossible dream, never to be realised with the Equal Pay Act.

Child birth? Are you looking for a brave new world where that is equal? Or a world where bearing and rearing children does not render women unequal?  Are men gonna wipe an equal number of bums? Babies bums? Sick folk’s bums? Old folk’s bums? Equality of sharing, caring, cleaning and weaning.

What about valuing women for how we look? You know, the patriarchal fuckability test?  Are men going to be equally judged by what they look like, rather than what they do? Women can chose to walk in painful heels, to maximise their ‘assets’, to flaunt or enhance their curves. Some women enjoy that femininity shit, don’t they? You surely believe in a woman’s right to choose, don’t you?  Of course you do. But what do we chose? Why do we? If we’re equal, would we? And those that choose not to, will they be equal too?

What about war? Do you want women to start an equal number of wars to men?  To fight and die in equal numbers to men? To rape in equal numbers to men? For men to be raped in equal numbers to women? Which is it?  How’s that going to work under your equality? What about no war? Maybe no war. But in this man made world of arbitrary boundaries and power struggles, how’re you going to achieve no war?

Democracy’s great, isn’t it? A cornerstone of equality, maybe, for sure?  But only 24% of the UK cabinet are women.  You’ll sort that out in the name of equality, won’t you? And where’s the equality when 6 percent of children go to independent schools but make up 45% of the cabinet?  When 61% of the cabinet graduated from just two universities?  5% percent of the cabinet – two people – are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.  What’s democracy again?  Power of the people,  ruling through freely elected representatives? It’s just that not everyone gets an equal chance of representing.  Just not rule by representative representatives.

What about the sale and purchase of women? Are men going to be commodified just the same?  Objectified? Pornified? Trafficked?  Pimped?  Ah, yes, but what about choice again?  That old turkey.  A woman’s right to choose to sell sex? Are men going to make the same choices? If not, why not?  Where’s the market? And how come it’s poor women, black women, in some counties indigenous women, who disproportionately make that choice?  What about their equality? What about mine? If some women are commodities and some men are buyers, how can any of us ever be equal? If my sisters are for sale, they cannot be, I cannot be, equal.

Equality under the law?  Yeah, surely you want that too.  But how are you going to get that, with laws written by rich white men to protect the interests of rich white men? When we have a legal system celebrated for innocent until proven guilty. When insufficient evidence is synonymous with lack of guilt, with innocence. Can’t you see how it’s stacked? When poor people, black people and women who have been abused are disproportionately found guilty, disproportionately disbelieved, where’s the equality?

When the Equality Act 2010  covers age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy and maternity but not class, not poverty, what is even the point of pretending it’s about equality?

Male violence against women? Bet you believe in equality there too, don’t you? Domestic violence is gender neutral, right? Rape?  Those hidden male victims?  If you refuse to see inequality, if you don’t even believe that most violence is perpetrated by men, how are you going to achieve equality?  Which equality are you going for there?  Increasing the number of male victims? Increasing the number of female perpetrators? Can’t be reducing male violence, can it?  Male violence isn’t a thing, is it?

In all this and more, equality just doesn’t provide the answers.  Equality is a condition of a just society, not a cure for an unjust one.  So when I say feminism isn’t about equality, it’s about women’s liberation from men’s oppression, this is what I mean.  Ending inequality is a big part of feminism, of course it is. But equality is impossible in the society that we have. That’s why feminists talk about smashing patriarchy because we need to think bigger. I don’t even know what a society free of patriarchy would look like.  I don’t know how we’ll get there, but I know we’ll never get there down the road called ‘equality’.

Early this year, I heard Bea Campbell ask ‘What would a world without male violence look like?’ Shit. I can’t even imagine that.

Innocent Victims? Isn’t that just another way of blaming women and girls for men’s violence?

The phrase “innocent victim” has re-emerged to describe Sabrina Moss – a 24-year old teacher who was shot dead in London as she celebrated her birthday in August 2013 – in British bastions of judgemental conservative journalism The Daily Mail and the Express.

It’s a phrase that came in to my consciousness when it was used to describe 16-year-old Jane MacDonald who was murdered on 26 June 1977 by being hit on the head with a hammer three times and stabbed in the chest and back around 20 times. When her face-down body was turned over by police, they found a broken bottle complete with screw-top embedded in her chest.  She was murdered by Peter Sutcliffe and was the fifth woman of thirteen that he is known to have killed.  Before her, there had been 28-year-old Wilma McCann, beaten with a hammer and stabbed to death in October 1975; 42-year-old Emily Jackson, beaten with a hammer and stabbed 52 times with a screw-driver in January 1975; Irene Richardson, 28, beaten with a hammer and stabbed and slashed with a Stanley knife in February 1977 and Patricia Atkinson, 32, beaten and clawed with a hammer and also stabbed, in April 1977.  Wilma McCann, Emily Jackson, Irene Richardson and Patricia Atkinson had not been described by the press as innocent victims.  Why? Because Jane MacDonald was the first woman known to have been murdered by Sutcliffe who was not in prostitution.  Sutcliffe himself shared this belief that prostituted women were less worthy than none prostituted women.  In his confession, referring to Jane MacDonald, he said

“The next one I did I still feel terrible about, it was the young girl Jayne MacDonald. I read recently about her father dying of a broken heart and it brought it all back to me. I realised what sort of a monster I had become. I believed at the time I did it that she was a prostitute.”

and

“When I saw in the papers that MacDonald was so young and not a prostitute, I felt like someone inhuman and I realised that it was a devil driving me against my will and that I was a beast.”

Leaving aside Sutcliffe’s failure to take responsibility for his actions –  blaming them on being driven by the devil, not his own violent misogyny –  the implication is clear, that beating and stabbing four prostituted women to death was something less than monstrous. He became a monster when he killed Jane, not when he had killed Wilma, Emily, Irene and Patricia.

This week, Oscar Pistorius was found not guilty of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, the woman he killed.  State prosecutor Gerrie Nel refered to Pistorius as causing “the death of an innocent woman” and again referred to him being “convicted of a serious crime of killing an innocent woman.”  Of course, Reeva Steenkamp, in comparison to Pistorius was innocent, but surely that is almost always the case when comparing murder victims to their killers.    If not innocent, what are they? Guilty? Or perhaps somehow complicit in their own death?

Despite attempts at law reform, some women’s complicity in their own murders is still implied indeed enshrined  in British law.  Academic Adrian Howe has looked at infidelity in the sentencing of men convicted of intimate partner homicide.  She points out that  “For over 300 years, criminal courts have regarded sexual infidelity as sufficiently grave provocation as to provide a warrant, indeed a ‘moral warrant’, for reducing murder to manslaughter.”  and that whilst “ ‘sexual infidelity’ was expressly excluded as a trigger for loss of control in the new loss of control defence laid down in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009”, “sexual infidelity still has mitigating prowess” in diminished responsibility pleas, as does men’s ‘distress’ if they kill a partner who is in the process of leaving them.  This ‘distress’ could just as easily be described men’s entitlement, or their rage that their partner has the audacity to reject them and move on.  A woman’s murder is somehow less heinous, deserving a reduced plea of manslaughter or a reduced sentence, if the court accepts that something that she did contributed to a man’s choice to kill her.

Dead women get no opportunity to defend their character; but even if they could, it should not make a difference.   Victims of violence should not be graded according to their worth, the balance would inevitably be tipped to discredit those not deemed to be ‘good’ women according to a scale reflecting class-biased and sexist values of what a woman should be.  We can see this when we look at the justice system and men’s sexual violence against women.  Women are not equal in the eyes of the law. The concept of ‘lady-like’ behaviour controls, judges and stratifies; acceptable/respectable standards of woman or girlhood align with middle-class standards of conduct and appearance.  Catharine MacKinnon argued  that the law divides women along indices of consent from ‘the virginal daughter’ to ‘whorelike wives and prostitutes’ with women who meet standards closer to the former, less likely to be found to have consented to unwanted intercourse, more likely to be believed regarding rape and sexual violence. Women who are socially or educationally disadvantaged are less likely to ‘perform well’ in the criminal justice system1 and women from working-class backgrounds are more likely to refuse to adhere to the status of victim, more likely to endure/cope and more likely to minimise injury2, as victims is it we who are on trial, we who are judged and the men who attack us who benefit from our perceived innocence.  In Rotherham, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and beyond, we’ve seen how labelling girls as slags and troublemakers allows the men who abuse to continue to do so.

Women victims of male violence should not have unequal status under the law.  Whether we have fucked one man or woman or five hundred; whether we pay our bills though prostitution, preaching, teaching or trust funds. Our laws, written by white middle-class men, favour white middle-class men and all women victims of male violence deserve justice, not just those of us who according to some scale of judgement are deemed ‘innocent’.

 

1 Temkin 2002b:6

2 Skeggs, 2005:971

 

Who Counts?

Just women killed by men: shifting definitions and learning though Counting Dead Women

It’s over two and a half years since I unintentionally started counting dead women back in January 2012 when the year began with report after report of women killed through domestic violence. I know now, but I didn’t then, that in the first three days of 2012, eight women in the UK were killed through male violence. Three days, eight dead women: three shot, two stabbed, one strangled,  one smothered and one beaten to death through 15 blunt force trauma injuries

Eight women aged between 20 and 87, their killers aged between 19 and 48 were husbands, partners, boyfriends or ex’s; , sister’s partner, aunt’s partner, robber and grandson.  I remember the feeling of incredulity that connections weren’t being made, that dots weren’t being joined, that no-one was talking about a pattern, or at least a series of related events.

At first, I counted women killed through domestic violence, then, on March 9th 2012, Ahmad Otak stabbed and killed Samantha Sykes, 18 and Kimberley Frank, 17. Otak wasn’t the boyfriend of either of them, but of Elisa Frank, Kimberley’s sister.  After killing Kimberly and Samantha in front of Eliza, he abducted Eliza and drove to Dover in an attempt to escape to France. The murders of Samantha and Kimberley didn’t strictly fit the definition of domestic violence, but they’re absolutely about a man trying to exert power, control and coercion in his relationship. The murders of Kimberley and Samantha were no less about male violence against women that they would have been if he had been the boyfriend of one of them.

I’d never planned to start counting and I think I’d imagined that I’d stop at the end of 2012.  At the end of the year, I tried to define who I was counting and who I wasn’t using the term ‘gender related murder’.  With the start of 2013, I started a new list and kept on counting.  Slowly finding a voice through social media, particularly twitter, I started blogging early in 2013. I wrote my first piece about how I started counting and some of the things I’d learned and called it Counting Dead Women. With the term ‘gender related murder’ I was trying to express that fatal male violence against women went beyond ‘domestic violence’; that there was more to men’s sexist misogynistic murders of women than the widely used ‘Two women a week killed by partners or ex-partners’, that socially constructed gender has an influence beyond domestic violence .  I had a notion, that I now reject, that I wasn’t talking about all instances where men had killed women; and I didn’t want to be accused of exaggerating and adding women just to make the numbers higher.

So, there were some women who had been killed by men that I didn’t add to the list, for example where she’d been killed but so had a man  – my thinking ‘So, this wasn’t just sexism/misogyny’ – or one case  where the killer was an employee of the woman he murdered, ‘maybe he’d have killed his employer even if he had been a man?’  I had more questions:  Who counts as a ‘UK woman’? What about women from the UK murdered on holiday? If I counted UK women murdered overseas, should I therefore not count women who were not from the UK if they were murdered here?  What about so-called mercy killings? In a country where assisted dying is not legal, surely some people might make the choice through lack of choice.  What about girls?  When does the killing of a child become sexist?

I started thinking about and using the term Femicide ‘the killing of women because they are women’ and wrote about it here in October 2013.  But it still didn’t feel right, the term  ‘femicide’ itself doesn’t name the agent, neither does the short definition above, purportedly because women can kill women as a result of patriarchal values. Of course that’s true, yet the 123-word definition of femicide agreed at the Vienna Symposium on Femicide whilst giving some useful examples of forms that fatal violence against women can take, still didn’t name ‘male violence’ and it excluded a group of women that I’d begun to identify through my counting: older women killed by younger men in what were sometimes described as ’botched robberies’ or muggings. The level of brutality that some men used against these women, the way some targeted women and the use of sexual violence, meant to me that their murders could not be excluded. I posed that question, that in a world where sexism and misogyny are so pervasive, are all but inescapable, can a man killing a woman ever not be a sexist act?  A fatal enactment of patriarchy?

It’s September 2014 now.  Last week, on Thursday, 82-year-old Palmira Silva became at least the 100th woman in the UK to be killed through male violence this year. I say at least the 100th because I have a list of more than 10 women’s names where the circumstances of their deaths has not been made publicly available.  In the same way that the list of 107 women’s names that I’d gathered by the end of 2012 is now a list of 126 women, I expect that time will reveal women who have been killed this year, women I haven’t heard about or who I haven’t yet been able to include because information about their deaths has not been released .

Because I’m counting dead women, keeping this list, I was able to make connections that others simply wouldn’t know about.  On Thursday evening, a tweet I wrote, identifying Palmira Silva as the third women to have been beheaded in London in less than six months was trending in London. My blog had more hits in one day than it usually has in a month.  Some people heard about my list for the first time and asked questions, making me realise it was perhaps time to revisit and update my explanation of what I’m doing and why.

Why am I counting women killed through male violence? Because if we don’t name the agent, we can’t hope to identify the causes.  If we don’t reveal the extent of men’s fatal violence against women and the various forms it can take, we will never be capable of a thorough enough analysis to reduce or end it.  If the bigger picture is revealed, people can begin to see the connections.  That’s why I know that I need to keep counting dead women and campaigning for this to be done officially.

My thinking has developed and changed since January 2012.  There’s no reason that it won’t continue to do so. Not everyone likes what I’m doing or how I’m doing it. Not everyone agrees with my analysis.  Not everyone thinks women killed by men are worth of counting.

So, who counts?  Women.  Women, aged 14 years and over, women killed by men in the UK and UK women killed overseas.  Regardless of the relationship between the woman and the man who killed her; regardless of how he killed her and who else he killed at the same time; regardless of the verdict reached when the case gets to court in our patriarchally constructed justice system created by men and continually delivering anything but justice to women; regardless of what is known and not known of his motive.  Just women killed by men.

Beheaded

82-year-old Palmira Silva was found beheaded in a garden in Edmonton, north London. A 25-year-old-man was arrested on suspicion of murder.  Police have stated that there is no reason to suspect a terrorist motive.

This is not an “isolated incident”. She is the third woman to have been beheaded in London in less than six months. On the 3 June 2014, Tahira Ahmed, 38, was decapitated. Her husband, Naveed Ahmed, 41, was charged with her murder. In April 2014, Judith Nibbs, 60, was decapitated, allegedly by her estranged husband Demsey Nibbs, 67.

Last year, in June, Reema Ramzan, 18, was decapitated by boyfriend, Aras Hussain, 21. The year before, in October 2012, Catherine Gowing, 39, was decapitated and raped by serial rapist Clive Sharp, 47. In March the same year Elizabeth Coriat, 76, was decapitated by her son Daniel Coriat, 43; earlier the same month, Gemma McCluskie, 29, had been decapitated by her brother Tony McCluskie, 36.

A beheading is no less horrific if there is not a suspected terrorist motive. Yet, 100 women in the UK have been killed though suspected male violence so far this year. Each of their deaths should cause outrage. That they don’t, that fatal male violence against women is accepted as one of those things that happens, that a COBRA meeting hasn’t been called to stop men from killing women, should tell us all we need to know about who is – and who isn’t – seen as important in our society.

Naked headless women golf tees, it’s all a bit of a laugh

Naked headless women golf tees, it’s all a bit of a laugh, eh?  Adding, according to Dunlop, “a little humour to your game” or “the perfect gift for someone who takes the sport a little too seriously.”  Bend down and stick the nice bit of pink plastic tits and arse in the ground, balance your golf ball head, swing and “thwack”. Hilarious.

But what about those of us who aren’t laughing?

I grew up in a village in Yorkshire with a pub called The Silent Woman.  The pub sign was a picture of a woman carrying her head in her hands.  To be silent a woman had to be headless.  A misogynistic leap of association, dragging in the nagging wife, the fishwife, the gossip: to be silent a woman must be headless. Is there a feminist on social media who hasn’t experienced attempts at silencing when she expresses her opinions?  I’ve lost count of the number of men who have told me “Don’t start with ….”, “Shut up,” or called me variations of screeching, bleating feminazi.  The Silent Woman in Slaithwaite did not have a unique pub name, there are several across the UK, with The Headless Woman as a variation.  Sometimes the  name appears with the couplet: “Here is a woman who has lost her head,  She’s quiet now—you see she’s dead” (Author unknown) just in case the inference from name alone isn’t clear enough.  Carl Jung talked about cultural archetypes. Cross cultural , universal concepts that he believed indicated a collective unconscious.  Unconscious forces that are expressed in images, religion, stories and mythology as they enter consciousness and shape our interactions in society.  The silent woman, synonymous with headless woman is a patriarchal archetype. It reflects sexist misogynistic cultural values.  Not convinced about the concept of patriarchy?  Remember Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects? “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.”

The objectification of women, reducing us to hilarious little objects that exist to titillate men, to give them a giggle, is another means of keeping us unequal.  Reducing us to hilarious little objects towards which to swing a golf club makes hitting us fun.  Making a joke out of the objectification of women and male violence against women is another way of normalising and reducing our ability to stop and stand back, to confront the horrible reality of what is happening.

Male violence against women does not exist in a social vacuum, it simultaneous reinforces and is reinforced by inequality between woman and men, given more than a helping hand by the objectification of women. Two and a half years ago, I started counting UK women killed through male violence.  Since I started counting in January 2012 and the end of May 2014, 333 UK women had been killed; amongst them, I am aware of six women who were decapitated.  Anyone still laughing at Dunlop’s golf tees?

Is it funny if I remind you of 29-year-old Gemma McCluskie?  She was actor living in London. In March 2012, her brother Tony McCluskie, 36, killed her by hitting her head and then chopped her up with a cleaver and a knife.  The next day, he took a cab carrying a heavy suitcase.  A week later, her torso was found in the suitcase in the canal close to where he was dropped off.  A week later her arms and legs were found in black bags.  It was another six months before her head was found.

Will you laugh if I tell you about Elizabeth Coriat? In March 2012, Daniel Coriat, 43, killed his 76-year-old mother Elizabeth Coriat in their shared home in London.  She was found on her bed, fully clothed, decapitated and mutilated with various weapons embedded in her head and body, injuries to the wrists and ankles in a ‘crucifixion-like’ pattern. She had suffered almost 50 separate injuries inflicted by weapons including carving knives, secateurs, a chef’s steel and a pruning saw.  Her head had been cut off completely off, rotated 180 degrees, and placed back on her body.

Will your golfer stop talking the sport so seriously if we think about Catherine Gowing, a 39-year-old vet who was murdered by a serial rapist Clive Sharp, 47, in October 2012? He raped her for 4 hours before killing her. The next day he bought bleach, petrol, a hacksaw and spare blades, and a Halloween mask.  He dismembered Catherine’s remains in open ground before disposing of her body in various locations in North Wales.  Only her torso, right hand and foot have been recovered; her head and remaining body parts were never found.

Will the story of Reema Ramzan bring back the missing humour to your game? 18-year-old Reema from Sheffield was murdered by her boyfriend Aras Hussain, 21,  in June 2013. According to forensic evidence although he had stabbed her in the chest,  Reema was likely to be alive while her head was being cut off, though would of course have lost consciousness at some point.  A post mortem showed Reema had also been stabbed in her shoulder and leg.  Injuries on her hands were consistent with self-defence.  Judge Mrs Justice Cox told Hussain  “”The pain, terror, anguish and desperation she would therefore have suffered, as you inflicted these appalling injuries upon her and ended her life, is truly horrifying to contemplate.”

Finally, if your sense of humour needs a final nudge there’s 60-year-old Judith Nibbs  who lived in Hackney, London. Judith had been active in the local community for many years and had worked delivering meals-on-wheels to the elderly for the last 6 years.  She also cared for her disabled daughter. In April 2014, police responding to a call found her decapitated body in her blood-splattered flat. Her estranged husband, Dempsey Nibbs, 67, was also there.  It is believed he had stabbed and seriously injured himself after killing Judith.  Police are not looking for anyone else.

Those golf club thwacks to the head have a broader context beyond beheaded women.  There are numerous women  murdered through blows to the head: garden ornaments, kitchen implements, hammers, feet, fists, blunt force trauma, fractured skull, brain injury. There’s also 68-year-old Sally Hingston, murdered by 25-year old and 6ft 10 Benjamin Radojezic: Sally survived a brutal beating – with a golf club – only to be dumped half naked in a ditch where she took 17 hours to die in Buckinghamshire in 2009.

Off with her head.  Oh, such a laugh. The naked headless woman – a little bit of humour for your game of golf.  I’m not laughing. After reading this, could anyone be?

 

Jo Sharpen has stated a petition to Dunlop to remove the naked woman golf tees from sale.  You can sign it here https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/dunlop-sport-remove-the-misogynistic-nudie-tee-product-which-features-a-decapitated-woman-s-body# %85naked woman golf tees picture

Nahid Al-Manea was stabbed to death ‘because she was wearing traditional Muslim dress’?

The headline “Woman stabbed to death ‘because she was wearing traditional Muslim dress’” is repeated across today’s news.

Attacking Nahid Al-Manea because of what she was wearing was a racist hate crime and blaming her clothing is judgemental victim blaming.  I have no desire to defend any religion. All religions that I am aware of oppress women.  But I want to know why we can almost immediately place her murder in a box called ‘religion’ or ‘racism’.   So far this year, I’ve counted more than 70 women in the UK killed though suspected male violence, but I’ve yet to see anyone other than feminists identifying this a problem with patriarchy or misogyny.

According to the Tell MAMA UK  project, 58% of anti-Muslim attacks reported to them are against women and girls with a 2:1 ratio of women victims in Islamic clothing compared to men in Islamic clothing, 75% of perpetrators are male.  The sex differences are clear – and predicable – to anyone who cares to look for them.  When race or religion are a factor in violence, these are rightly identified and named . Why isn’t it the same with sexist and misogynistic murder?

We’re not calling racially motivated attacks isolated incidents, nor should we, but that’s still how male violence against women is too frequently viewed. Racist violence does not happen in a vacuum that is unaffected by other forms of hate-crime.  Of course we need to drive out racism but we need to open our eyes and make the connections between all crimes of male violence against women – any woman, all women.

Within minutes of the breaking news of the violent murder of Lee Rigby last summer, his death was being linked to Islamic extremism– a threat to “our  British values”.  The government’s emergency response committee, COBRA, was convened the following day. Why hasn’t a COBRA meeting been called to look at fatal male violence against women?  The murder of Lee Rigby was abhorrent, but any murder is abhorrent. There should be no hierarchy. Could it be that it is only when the primary aggressors are those acting against, not reinforcing the dominant ideology, that the structural root of violence is identified?

According to Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Tell MAMA UK  “If the killing is found to be an anti-Muslim in nature, then this will be the second Islamophobic murder in 14 months,”.   Two in 14 months is two too many. Nahid al-Manea, 32, was stabbed to death.  A 52 year-old man has been arrested.  I’ve seen more than 70 versions of this same story in the UK already this year. Over 70 dead women.  Over 70 male killers.  70 dead women in five months. Women with a wide range of backgrounds.  Nine dead women this month so far. Who isn’t making the connections?

“Die in a fire”

A piece written by Sian Norris today “Go die in a fire” is not just an idle threat – as I know only too well”  made me think.  In Sian’s words:

 “ Telling women to die in a fire is no idle threat. It is the reality of millions of women throughout history. It is the reality of women alive today. It is my reality, as a survivor of having men set my hair on fire. It is not ok to despise women’s real life experience of male violence. It is not ok to use women’s experience of male violence in your desperate efforts to make women shut up. 

 I, too, hate that saying. Through my work counting dead women, I know that 17 women in the UK were either murdered in fires or set alight after they had been killed between January 2012 and December 2013. As Sian concludes

 “If you read this, and you are one of those people who has told women to die in a fire, who has threatened to silence women by setting them on fire, then for fuck’s sake, think about what you are saying and who you are saying it to.”

 I’d like to add “If you tell women to “die in a fire,” please remember:

Stacey Mackie, aged 35, was doused in white spirit and set alight on 27th January 2012. Police broke into her flat when a neighbour raised the alarm,  They found her sitting in the lobby with 80-95% burns, her clothes were  almost entirely burned off and her hair was singed.  As a police officer tried to comfort her, she replied: ‘I know I am going to die.’  Terrence Armer 61, was convicted of her murder, killing her after she had ended their relationship.  In court he denied that he had killed her and told the jury that he loved her.

Catherine Wells-Burr, aged 23, was smothered by Rafal Nowak.  Anna Lagwinowicz and  Tadevsz Dmytryszyn removed her body from the house and drove it in her car to a remote countryside location. Her badly-burned body was found in the burnt-out car on 12 September 2012.

Kayleigh Buckey, 17, her  six month old baby daughter Kimberley and her mum, Kim Buckley, 46, were killed in a fire in their home.  Kayleigh’s partner and father of Kimberley, Carl Mills, aged 28 was found guilty of their murders.

The body of Una Crown, aged 83,  was found on 13th January 2013.  She had suffered serious burns. Officers first thought she had accidentally set herself on fire before serious stab wounds were identified in her post-mortem. Her murder remains unsolved.

The body of Chloe Siokos, 80, and that of her husband  Argyrios Siokos, 69, were discovered after a fire at their home on 22 January 2013. Police said Chloe had other injuries inconsistent with the fire being the cause of death and that it was thought that Argyrios Siokos had murdered her before starting the fire.

Sasha Marsden, aged 16, was sexually assaulted and stabbed in the head and neck by work colleague David Minto, 23.  Her body was wrapped in a bin liner and carpet underlay, and dumped in an alleyway on 31 January 2013 before being set on fire.  Her injuries were so severe that she had to be identified by DNA from her toothbrush.

Ellen Ash, aged 83, was smothered by her son Jeffrey Ash on 21st March 2013.  He set fire to her home and fled before handing himself into police. Fire crews found her badly-burned body on the living room floor.

Naika Inayat, aged 52, died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a fire started by her husband Mohammed Inayat on 17 April 2013.  Their three daughters were also injured in the fire, one of them, 16-year-old Saimah, who had to jump from a bedroom window, suffered 50 per cent burns

Julie Beattie, aged 24, was murdered by Ashley Williams on 19th July 2013.  He  hit her  over the head with a hammer before he doused her in a mixture of petrol and diesel fuel.  She staggered out of the house in flames and said “‘Ashley did this to me”, before collapsing.  She later died of her injuries.  Her murder was witnessed by two children aged four and five, they became the youngest witnesses to give evidence at a murder trial.

Varka Rani, aged 24, was strangled with the pipe of a vacuum cleaner by her husband Jasvir Ginday, 29, on 12th  September 2013.  He had previously filed a missing persons report about her ‘disappearance’.  Police found her remains in the garden incinerator when neighbours reported thick, unpleasant-smelling smoke. Ginday told police he had been burning leaves, but one of the officers lifted the lid and saw the remains of a skull. Varka had been placed in the incinerator in the foetal position after her death.

Shehnila Taufiq, 47, her 19-year-old daughter Zainab, and sons Bilal, 17, and Jamal,15, all died in a petrol-fuelled blaze at their home after it was mistakenly targeted in a revenge attack on 13 September 2013.  Kemo Porter, 19, Tristan Richards, 22, Nathaniel Mullings, 19, Shaun Carter, 24, Jackson Powell, 20, Aaron Webb, 20, Aaron Jeffers, 21, and a 17-year-old youth who cannot be named for legal reasons are standing trial. The trial continues.

Ahdieh Khayatzadeh, 46, suffered severe burns after being doused in petrol and set on fire by her ex-husband Ahmad Yazdanparast on 12th October 2013.  Firefighters who brought her out of the building alive said she was in “horrendous” condition, so badly burned that they couldn’t tell if she was male or female, and “very much conscious”.  She died in hospital the same day, Before she died she told a paramedic that her ex-husband had carried out the attack because she had divorced him.

Mahnaz Rafie, aged 48, died of stab wounds before a fire started in her home on 12th December 2013.  Her mother Dolleh Joseph, 74, was rescued by fire crews but pronounced dead at hospital from smoke inhalation and burns.  Her husband Hassan also died from smoke inhalation and burns.  It is believed that the fire started after the gas supply was tampered with.  Police said they were not looking for anyone else