Nigella Lawson used the phrase ‘intimate terrorism’ to describe her abuse from Charles Saatchi in court in December last year. It is a derivative of the more useful term ‘patriarchal terrorism’ which captures not only that men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators and women the victims, but the wider cultural context – patriarchy – in which men’s violence against women takes place. The concept of terrorism reminds us that abuse is physical and deadly but also about coercion and reinforcing ideologies of dominance.
The UK’s military role against the Taliban in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of 99 members of the Army, RAF, Royal Marines and special forces in the last three years. Regardless of, and not discounting the arguments for or against British military intervention and also not wishing to denigrate the death of even one person – military or civilian, or on either side – the deaths of British military personnel are far outnumbered by the deaths of 140 women in the UK who were killed though men’s violence in one year alone.
I started keeping the list of the names of women killed in January 2012. Many people know the statistic than ‘two women a week are killed through domestic violence in England and Wales ‘ but I thought keeping a list of the names of women killed made the horror of what is happening feel more real. Since I started the list, I’ve counted 264 dead women: 120 in 2012, 140 in 2013 and already 4 in 2014.
When I started keeping the list, I was shocked and angry about the lack of attention given to the murders of women, and what feels like a refusal to look at the links between the different forms of men’s violence against women. It’s not only women being killed by their partners or ex-partners but by their sons, grandsons, fathers, business associates, as well as by rapists and robbers.
I launched a campaign “Counting Dead Women” because I want to see a fit-for-purpose record of fatal male violence against women. Unless we have an accurate picture of what is going on and make connections between the different forms of sexist murders, we will not stop men killing women. 264 dead women later and I’m not going to stop counting and naming the women killed until official records are being kept and the government is doing everything that it can. I’m asking anyone who feels the same and who hasn’t already done so to sign my petition demanding change.
I’d like to thank @thedwellproject for the analogy to British military deaths in Afghanistan in this post by Eddie. For Our Daughters have also compared women killed though male violence to British troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and N. Ireland.