Women who are killed are most likely to have been killed by a man, men who are killed are most likely to have been killed by a man. We know that women who are killed are most likely to have been killed by someone they know, government statistics suggest 78%, of these most are killed by a partner or former partner, government statistics suggest 47%. Most women killed are killed by men. The government declines to share the statistic for this, instead blurring the sex of killers by using neutral relationship terms like parent, associate, child, indeed partner or ex-partner to identify killers by their relationship to the victim. Men, on the other hand, whilst still more likely to have been killed by someone they know, 57%, are much less likely to be killed by a partner or former partner, approximately 5% of men killed. Gay men are more likely to be killed by their male partner than lesbians killed by their female partner. Most men killed are killed by men. Again, the government declines to share this statistic. We know that more men are killed each year than women, so we can’t simply compare the 47% of women killed being killed by a partner/ex-partner to the 5% of men killed for a simple numerical comparator, but in the 11 years between 2001/2 and 2011/12, 296 men, an average of 27 per year were killed by a partner or ex-partner and 1066 women were killed by a partner or ex-partner, an average of 97 per year. In the same period, in total, 6.1% of people convicted of murder were women, meaning that 93.9% were men, those are the government’s figures, not mine. 31.8 of homicide victims were women, 68.2% were men.
We all know that Charles Saatchi grabbed Nigella Lawson by the throat last June but what about Janelle Duncan Bailey, 25; Myrna Kirby, 57; Glynis Solmaz, 65; Chantelle Barnsdate-Quean, 35; Mary Roberts, 50; Christine Baker, 52; Margaret Macati, 63; Georgia Williams, 17; Yvonne Walsh, 25; Marianne Stones, 58; Sabeen Thandi, 37; Shavani Kapoor, 34; Assia Newton, 44; Jade Watson, 22; and Poonam, 35, all of whom were strangled to death last year in the UK by men. How many of us know the names of these women? How many of us know the names of their killers?
On Saturday 5 April this year, it is alleged that Mayka Kukucova shot a British man Andrew Bush, in Spain. A google search of her name brings 5,100 results and 104 links to articles for the reader to ‘explore in depth’. On the same day, Aston Robinson murdered Kayleigh Palmer, it is alleged; a search of his name brings 3,420 results and 39 articles to ‘explore in depth’. Also on 5 April, it is alleged that Steven McCall murdered Senga Closs. Search his name and there are 3,700 results but the first three links are to completely different issues, different McCalls, before the murder of Senga Closs appears with 5 links to pieces for the reader to ‘explore in depth’. Since then Dudley Boakes and Mateusz Kosecki have been charged with the murders of Sandra Boakes and Yvette Hallsworth on 6th April; and Dempsey Nibbs with the murder of Judith Nibbs on 11th April; none generating the interest afforded to Mayka Kukucova. In addition, Liam Naylor has been charged with the murder of Doreen Walker on 2 April and Paul McManus has been charged with the fatal stabbing of Isabelle Sanders on 9 April. Compare also the number of photos of Mayka Kukucova to those of the men accused of murder (only Aston Robinson currently appears in a photograph) and it is very clear that the killing of a British man by a woman, even overseas, is deemed much more newsworthy than that of any of the 7 British women suspected to have been killed by men in the UK so far this month.
The media coverage of the current trial for murder of Oscar Pistorius who has admitted killing Reeva Steenkamp last February, has sympathetically covered his sobbing, his vomiting and his love for Reeva; despite his more recent floundering under cross-examination by state prosecutor Gerrie Nel, today he found time to sign an autograph on his way out of court reading “Thank you for your love and kindness, Oscar”. It’s about him, about what happened to him not what he did. Last month, a report released by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) ‘Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse’ referred to 77 women killed by their partners or ex-partners between April 2012 and March 2013. The focus on domestic violence meant that the killings by men of 38 women were rendered irrelevant. The extent of fatal male violence against women simply erased.
We’re only two weeks in to April 2014 and already seven women in the UK have been killed, with a man charged with their murders. Just like any other month, these killings can rarely, even if somewhat anachronistically, be referred to as front-page news. Without the added ingredient of celebrity, male violence against women: rape, assault and murder are simply too commonplace.
Almost 94% of murderers in the UK are men. Even the most ardent disciples of ‘yeah but women kill men too’ cannot deny that this is a significant statistical difference. Government data and mainstream media conspire to feed the denial of both the extent to which men comprise the majority of murderers and the number of women killed by men compared to the number of men killed by women. It could almost make you feel sympathetic to those suggesting, demanding or instructing me to count dead men. Almost.
Yesterday, The Birmingham Mail published a hateful piece by Maureen Messent about the 77 women killed though domestic violence in the year April 2012-March 2013. Messent described the 77 women killed as their own worst enemies : “holy cows, never to be held accountable for staying with brutal men”. She shared her sympathy for West Midlands Police, imagining their “ frustration and disappointment, then, when the women they want to help fail to turn up as witnesses “because I love him really”.”
In the year in question, at least three of the 77 women killed by a partner or former partner lived in the area policed by the West Midlands force: Da In Lee, Natasha Trevis and Shaista Khatoon.
Da In Lee was a 22-year-old student studying International Relations and Sociology at Aston University. She met Daniel Jones in 2011 at a local church but had ended their relationship on 24 March 2012 though spent the night with him on 8 April. We only have Daniel Jones’ account of what happened the next day because Da In Lee is dead. According to Jones, during an argument, he ‘caused her to fall over’, (a phrase which neatly eradicates his responsibility), before climbing on top of her. By his own admission, she struggled and screamed so he put his left hand over her mouth before taking hold of her throat. He described how her face went purplish blue, he said he saw tears well up in her eyes and two tears rolling down her face. Yet he claimed he had not intended to cause her any harm and lost track of time and so didn’t know how long it was he was applying pressure to her throat. Accident-prone forgetful Daniel Jones had been cautioned for common assault on a previous girlfriend in 2010.
Natasha Trevis was 22. She had three children aged three, two and one with 28 year old Junior Saleem Oakes. Oakes was violent and controlling throughout their relationship. He had a history of domestic violence including a conviction at the age of 19, and was known to carry a knife. Oakes and Natasha were recently separated, she had not told him that she had recently terminated a pregnancy because she was afraid of what he might do. On 7 August, five days after a social worker let slip this information, Natasha had called a taxi to her mother’s home but Oakes had travelled with her to be dropped off elsewhere. In his statement, the taxi driver said he heard Natasha say to Oakes that they ‘didn’t need to talk about their relationship because they didn’t have one’. Natasha tried to escape but Oakes stabbed her 26 times. She had wounds to her head, face, neck, chest, back and legs, one stab wound to her brain was 10cm deep.
Shaista Khatoon, 33 and Shoukat Ali, 38 had been married 15 years and had five children. His behaviour had become controlling and violent, they had separated but his harassment and threats had continued. Shaista wanted a divorce. On 19 November, two days after receiving a divorce letter, Shoukat Ali broke in to the where Shaista lived with three of the children. As Shaista called the police, Ali cut her throat. The operator heard her screams. When the police arrived, they found her body in a pool of blood.
In addition, on May 8th, Lynda Jackson, 56, was found strangled to death at her home in Erdington. A 60-year-old man was found with injuries at the same address and taken to hospital where he was said to be in a critical condition. Police confirmed that they were not looking for anyone else. Lynda was a teaching assistant at Hodge Hill Sports and Enterprise College who was strangled to death. Marie McMahon, head teacher at Hodge Hill Sports and Enterprise College, said: “Lynda was a talented and well respected colleague. She was loved by staff and pupils alike and she will be sorely missed.”
Not all women killed by male violence are included in those killed by domestic violence. In addition to the women above, in the year in question a further five women in the West Midlands were killed though men’s violence against them. Janice Smithen, 46, was killed though blunt force trauma and Pauline Gillen, 69, was stabbed, both killed by their sons; Kaysley Smithen and Ian Woolley. Carole Mudie, 68, died after being mugged by Marvin Blake. Georgina Stuparu, 23, was stabbed by her friend’s boyfriend, Phillipe Burger. Christina Edkins,16, was stabbed by Phillip Simelane and Hayley Pointon was shot. Are they less responsible for their own deaths in Messent’s eyes because they hadn’t been in a relationship with their killer?
Daniel Jones, Junior Saleem Oakes and Shoukat Ali have all been found guilty of murdering the women who were trying to leave them: Da In Lee, Natasha Trevis and Shaista Khatoon. We do not hold these women accountable for their own murders, not because they are ‘holy cows’ but because the ones who are responsible for male violence against women are the violent men themselves. Men who kill women are responsible for their actions whether the woman they killed was in the process of taking court action, of leaving, had already left or was still in a relationship with them.
Messent describes West Midlands Police as taking “whatever steps necessary to help the vulnerable. Officers burn the midnight oil, never preach, are prepared to listen for hours at a time”. Is this the same West Midlands police who had to apologise to 19-year-old Alex Faragher who, when she reported domestic violence was called a “fucking slag” and a “bitch” by two officers who allegedly inadvertently recorded the message?
The killing does not stop. Since April 2013, Salma Parveen, Yvonne Walsh, Lilima Aktar, Varkha Rami, Jacqueline Oakes, Kanwal Azam, Jane McRae, Amandeep Kaur Hoti and Tracey Snook-Kite have been murdered though male violence or a man has been found responsible for or charged with causing their death. Nine more dead women. Holy Cows? Women who allowed “themselves to be used as punch bags” and “their own worst enemies”? No. Women who are victims of male violence. Women who were killed by men. Men who are solely and entirely responsible for their actions.
Desmond Tutu has been eulogising about forgiveness, he’s written a soon to be published book about it. He’s a fan of forgiveness. He has forgiven his father for his violence towards his mother, violence that Tutu witnessed and was powerless to stop as a child. He explains that it took him years to realise that he needed to forgive himself, or the child that he was, for not protecting his mother.
No one needs to be forgiven for being a child unable to prevent one parent’s violence towards the other (usually a father’s violence towards the mother). The child is never responsible. There is nothing to be forgiven for. But is it for the child to forgive the abusive parent? What does it mean for a boy child to forgive his father for violence towards his mother, essentially for a man to forgive another man for violence against women?
Tutu has also, with difficulty he says, forgiven himself for not making time to respond to his father’s request to see him the night before he unexpectedly died, an occasion which, Tutu imagines, might have been the time when his father sought to apologise for the violence he inflicted on Tutu’s mother. There’s nothing to suggest that Tutu is correct in this belief. It’s a convenience upon which he can pin his forgiveness.
It’s probably fair to say that Desmond Tutu is big on religion. He’s a retired Anglican bishop. I’d go as far as saying that he appears to have used his power and influence for good, but however closely allied to social justice, religion is conservative, it protects the status quo. In a feminist analysis that identifies patriarchal society, religion has been shaped to protect men’s oppression of women.
Apparently, in the bible there are two types of forgiveness: God’s pardoning of the sins of ‘his’ subjects, and the obligation of those subjects to pardon others. Being able to do so is so important that a believer’s eternal destiny is dependent upon it. Refusing to forgive is a sin. Forgiveness then is a selfish, not a selfless act. But it’s more than that, when talking about violence, it is an act that absolves the abuser of their responsibility. “No one is born a rapist, or a terrorist. No one is born full of hatred,” explains Tutu. He looks at how life chances have an impact upon the person we become, how none of us can say that we would not have behaved as an abuser behaves. I disagree. We are more than the product of our experiences. We have consciousness, we make choices, we can see if our behaviour is harmful or hurtful to another. Abusers are always responsible for their abuse. If someone’s ‘god’ , or indeed another believer, can absolve someone for the choices that they make, their responsibility is erased.
By reducing male violence against women to an individual relationship, one in which someone who is neither perpetrator nor primary victim can bestow forgiveness, we are ignoring, condoning – forgiving – the wider impact of men’s violence upon women, upon all women above and beyond that individual relationship. We cannot allow a person to say that this is okay, that this is forgiven, but it appears that religion encourages us to do just that. Indeed, male violence against women can be forgiven by god. That’s just a little bit convenient for patriarchy.
Male violence against women does not simply take place in the cocoon of an individual relationship. It is structural, it is systemic. The pattern, the overwhelming consistency with which women are the victims and men the perpetrators should be a big clue. Male violence against women is not random, it has a function and that function is to maintain the social order of male dominance: patriarchy. Male violence against women is a cause and consequence of inequality between women and men. In the UK, the mainstream is very quick to identify ‘other’ religions as oppressive to women but this is equally true of Christianity. Religion reinforces and upholds patriarchy, forgiveness is just another of its tools. We do not need to forgive male violence against women unless we want men to continue to dominate women.
Did Grayson Perry really talk about his Bill of Rights for Men at Southbank’s Women of the World festival? Can anyone who was there confirm?
At a festival celebrating women, is this appropriate?
“We men ask ourselves and others for the following: 1. the right to be vulnerable; 2. the right to be weak; 3. the right to be wrong; 4. the right to be intuitive; 5. the right not to know; 6. the right to be uncertain; 7. the right to be flexible; 8. the right not to be ashamed of any of these things.”
Imagine Iain Duncan Smith at the Paralympics:
“We people who are not disabled ask ourselves and others for the following: 1. the right to be vulnerable; 2. the right to be weak; 3. the right to be wrong; 4. the right to be intuitive; 5. the right not to know; 6. the right to be uncertain; 7. the right to be flexible; 8. the right not to be ashamed of any of these things.”
“We white people ask ourselves and others for the following: 1. the right to be vulnerable; 2. the right to be weak; 3. the right to be wrong; 4. the right to be intuitive; 5. the right not to know; 6. the right to be uncertain; 7. the right to be flexible; 8. the right not to be ashamed of any of these things.”
Imagine at a Koestler Trust awards event celebrating the art of offenders, secure patients and detainees
“We people at liberty ask ourselves and others for the following: 1. the right to be vulnerable; 2. the right to be weak; 3. the right to be wrong; 4. the right to be intuitive; 5. the right not to know; 6. the right to be uncertain; 7. the right to be flexible; 8. the right not to be ashamed of any of these things.”
What’s next? Shall I offer to talk about the rights of heterosexuals at Pride? Has anyone thought to invite George Osborne to talk about poor maligned Tories at any events making the 30th anniversary of the Miner’s Strike?
Just another case of “What about the men?” Women as a class are oppressed by men as a class. I can understand an examination of masculinity as a tool of women’s oppression at a festival for women even though it’s hardly a cause for celebration – but an examination of the oppression of the oppressors?
Becky Ayres, killed on the 6th March 2014, is the second woman in Greater Manchester to have been stabbed by a partner/ex-partner this year following the stabbing of Caroline Finegan in January. Last year, 5 women in Manchester were killed by a partner/ex-partner and 3 women were killed by their sons. The year before, 2012, 4 women were killed by a partner/ex. That’s 14 women in Manchester killed through men’s violence in two years.
Greater Manchester Police were piloting the domestic violence disclosure scheme, also known as Clare’s Law, from September 2012 to September 2013. Clare’s Law allows people – of course most of them will be women – to ask the police to check whether a partner – of course most of them will be men – has a violent past. If police checks show that a ‘person’ may be at risk of domestic violence from their partner, the police will consider disclosing the information. The pilot was also supposed look at how the police could proactively release information (‘right to know’) to protect a ‘person’ from domestic violence where lawful, necessary and proportionate.
Linzi Ashton was murdered by Michael Cope nine months in to the Clare’s Law pilot. We know that Greater Manchester Police knew that Cope was being violent to Linzi, that he had raped her and strangled her. Through the court we have also learned that he had a known history of violence to two former partners as well as other convictions for violent crimes. It appears to me that there was ample evidence to suggest that the police should have shared information about Cope with Linzi and should have realised the danger that she was in. Whether they did so or not, Linzi is dead and suffered a brutal painful death. After her death, there were 108 injuries on Linzi’s body, there were fractures to her right forearm, left elbow, neck, her nose was broken, there were ligature marks to her throat, as well as a cut along her throat. She had been punched, kicked, stamped on, cut with a blade, beaten with a metal pole and strangled with a cable tie.
During the pilot of Clare’s Law, as well as Linzi Ashton, the following women were killed through men’s violence: Jabeen Younis, 32 was stabbed 19 times by her husband Jahangir Nazar; Marianne Stones, 58, was strangled by her son Paul Stones, she also had a cut to the nose and bruising on her eye, arms and tongue; and Zaneta Kindzierska, 32 was stabbed by her husband Krzysztof Kindzierski. The body of Rania Alayed, 25 has not been found. Her husband and brother-in-law have been charged with her murder. They both deny the charges and will face trial in April.
The IPCC is investigating Greater Manchester Police’s contact with Linzi Ashton before her death. I fully expect to see a report showing that ‘lessons have been learned’. I’m sick of reading that lessons have been learned whilst still women are being killed by violent men.
The basic principle of allowing women to find out if a partner/prospective partner has a violent history is sound. I’ve spoken to several women who have had violent relationships who have told me that they think it would have made a difference to them, to have what we might call ‘warning signs’ confirmed. But Clare’s Law needs to be resourced and that means investment in, not cuts to, specialist women’s services.
I’m concerned that the government is going for quick fixes and headlines. The number of women killed though domestic violence has remained consistent for over 10 years. Yet that’s not the whole story. Approximately one quarter of women killed though men’s violence over the last two years have not been killed by a partner or former partner. The Government has a strategy to end violence against women and girls within which it states that: “The causes and consequences of violence against women and girls are complex. For too long government has focused on violence against women and girls as a criminal justice issue” and yet its actions do not match that commitment. I launched my campaign ‘counting dead women’ to highlight the extent of the problem of fatal male violence against women and to urge the government to do more to stop this happening. We need changes to the Criminal Justice System for sure, but we need so much more than that.
Clare’s Law, during its pilot in Manchester, did not prevent the deaths of Linzi Ashton, Jabeen Younis, Marianne Stones, Zaneta Kindzierska and Rania Alayed. Men’s violence against women and girls is a cause and consequence of inequality between women and men. Quick fixes are not the solution. Clare’s Law, may make a difference to some women who request information, but it’s not enough. I want to see changes to show that lessons really have been learned and that things are going to be different. Until then and until the government admits the seriousness of the problem and properly commits to doing everything it can to understand and end male violence, women will continue to be beaten, raped, abused, controlled and killed by men.
In memory of
06 March 2014
16 January 2014
19 April 2013
09 June 2013
16 June 2013
29 June 2013
12 November 2013
22 November 2013
14 December 2013
11 March 2012
02 June 2012
08 June 2012
26 June 2012
One of the reasons I started counting dead women was hearing a murder of a woman killed referred to as an ‘isolated incident’. Seven women were killed in the first three days of 2012 and yet connections between these occurrences of men’s fatal violence against women were absent. It’s little over two years and 275 dead women later, and police are still describing men’s killings of women as isolated incidents.
On Sunday 23rd February 2014, two women, one in her 60s and one in her 40s, as yet unnamed but believed to be mother and daughter, were shot dead. 82 year-old John Lowe has been arrested for their murders. A Detective Chief Inspector speaking on behalf of Surrey police said:
“We are conducting a full and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding these two deaths. However, at this time, we believe this is an isolated incident and there is no further risk to the wider community.”
Which aspect of their murders was an isolated incident? That they were killed by a man. Surely not, as stated above 275 women have been killed by men in the last 26 months. That they were shot? No, not that either. At least 15 of the 275 women killed were shot .
Less than two weeks earlier, 20 year-old Hollie Gazzard was stabbed to death. A Police Chief Inspector said
“I would like to reassure members of this community, both residents and local businesses, that this is an isolated incident. These offences don’t happen in Gloucester regularly. This incident was very tragic, however; both victim and suspect knew each other. They were in a previous relationship. That doesn’t lessen this horrific incident but it would be good for us to reassure the local community.”
Again, it’s difficult to see which aspect of Hollie’s murder was isolated. That she was stabbed? Definitely not, already in 2014, 6 women have been stabbed to death by men. In 2013, at least 45 women were stabbed to death and there were 44 in 2012. That’s 95 women stabbed in 26 months. Was it that she was stabbed by someone that she had been in a relationship with? Certainly not that, approximately three-quarters of the UK women killed by men since January 2012 have been killed by a partner or former partner. Perhaps then it’s that Hollie was killed in Gloucestershire. Gloucestershire wouldn’t be described as a femicide hotspot, though it’s only 6 months since the body of Jane Wiggett was found dead, her ex-husband has been charged with murder and remanded in custody. Two women dead in 6 months? Not so isolated then.
Earlier this year, on 24th January, 17 year-old Elizabeth Thomas was stabbed to death in Oxted, Surrey. A 16-year-old male, said to be known to her, has been arrested on suspicion of her murder. The Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector said:
“We believe this to be an isolated incident and that there is no risk to the further community.”
It’s difficult to fathom which aspect of Elizabeth’s murder was an isolated incident. That she was killed by a man known to her? No. That she was stabbed? No. That she was a teenager? No, not that either. Of the 275 women killed since January 2012, she’s the 16th teenager. Maybe it’s that she lived in affluent Surrey, the county ranked fifth least deprived according to the multiple deprivation index? Maybe that, after all it’s a long 14 months since 25 year-old Georgina Hackett was bludgeoned to death with a mallet by her boyfriend Daniel Baker. Yet Elizabeth’s murder was followed only 5 weeks later by the fatal shooting of the two women mentioned earlier. Maybe now, Elizabeth’s murder seems a little less of an isolated incident.
Also earlier this year, 43 year-old Karen Wild was stabbed to death in Hanbury, Worcestershire. A police Superintendent said:
“Following this tragic incident, we continue our investigations in and around the house, including searches and forensic examinations. I would like to reassure the local community that we believe this to be an isolated incident and no-one else is being sought in relation to our investigation.”
What was isolated about Karen Wild’s murder? We know it isn’t because she was killed by a man. We know it isn’t because she was stabbed. Worcestershire is another largely affluent area, Worcester district is ranked third least deprived according to the multiple deprivation index. Maybe all that affluence shortens memories, after-all 3 women – Alethea Taylor, 63; Jacqueline Harrison, 47 and Louise Evans, 32 – were killed though male violence in Worcestershire in 2012. Could it be that Karen’s son, Lian Wild was arrested and charged with her murder, that marks her killing as an isolated incident? No, it isn’t that either; Karen Wild is one of at least 32 women who have been killed by their sons since January 2012.
This is not about local communities, affluent or not. It is about women and it is about men. Are women not a community? Is our risk through men’s violence unrecognised? It is self-evident that each women killed by a man is a unique individual, as is each man that makes the choice to kill her. The circumstances around each killing are never identical. But that doesn’t make them isolated incidents. By refusing to see a pattern we are refusing to see the myriad connections between incidents of men’s fatal violence against women; and by refusing to see the connections we are closing our eyes to the commonalities in the causes. What sort of a message would it send, if, when a man killed a woman, police didn’t refer to an isolated incident but to yet another example of femicide? Yet another example of men’s fatal violence against women. Maybe then, naming male violence, misogyny, sex-inequality, dangerous rules of gender and patriarchy wouldn’t be restricted to feminists and would become part of a wider understanding. Maybe then, there would be sufficient motivation to do something about ending men’s fatal violence against women.
Insult us from the playground to parliament: Bitch. Witch. Slapper. Cow. Dog. Mouse. Mousse. Tart. Whore. Slut. Slag. Slattern. Fish-wife. Bossy. Bag. Harridan. Hag. Man. Man-hater
Strengthen the cage: reinforce gender by making girlhood pinker, shinier, sparklier
Princess, pretty, doll, lady,
Sweeter Sweetie: sugar, honey, treacle
Abort us. Kill us, rape us, burn us, drown us
Constrict us: corset, girdle, spanx. Tie us in, tie us down
Restrict us. Write us out of history. Block our education
Pay us less. Prevent us from voting, driving, ski-jumping
Sell us lies
Fill us with botox, collagen, PIPs
Our lips, wrinkles, breasts, bottoms: bigger, puffier, perter
Our skin too shiny, too dull, too dark, too pale
Cut out our fat, labia, clitorises
Heels higher, towering, teetering, toppling
Hair longer, straighter, blonder
Strip it, pluck it, wax it, shave it
We promised to obey
Treat us as property
Legalise our commodification
Prostitute us. Objectify us
Hide us in modest clothing
Shame our bodies
Camel-toe, nipple-block, vagisil
This is society, not biology, not psychology
Infiltrate, assimilate, vilify
Turn the tables, accuse us of hate-speech
Deny us a platform
Try to ban us from meeting
I am woman, hear me roar
Keep trying. Try harder
Your need to subjugate, dominate and place your interests first will not silence me and my sisters
You will not erase us
Still I rise. We rise.