“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

7 thoughts on ““Die in a fire”

  1. There is a tradition of remembrance in Israel that centres around reading the names of the fallen to commemorate them. For example, during our annual Remembrance Day ceremony at school, we would read out the names of all the people from our school who had died in all the wars. Every year there were new names. It’s an incredibly powerful gesture & really humanises the fallen.

    I think it would be good to do something like that with women; a video project perhaps, with women reading out the names of other women & the date they died? What do you think? Obviously we’d need to do it on a shoestring – or more likely on our phones – so production values are not going to be amazing, but I think it could be incredibly powerful.

  2. I always think there is something special about releasing balloons…beautiful and ethereal and a very visual reminder of the numbers of women who have been killed. Each balloon would have the name of a woman…

  3. or there is the Japanese tradition of making origami cranes of peace…something similar with each crane or bird having the name of a woman who has been killed

  4. What also I want to say is that this is a powerful post and a very necessary riposte to the those who think that saying die in a fire is harmless. Thank you for writing this.

  5. My first thought when reading that abusive line is of Mick Philpott, the murderer of his own children, but also violent misogynist and sexual exploiter of teenage girls. Those children were not ‘meant’ to have died in that fire, just as the statement is not ‘meant’ to be taken literally. But who really wants it to be brought to mind how those children and those women died?

    But if misogynists and various sexist idiots use that kind of language against us clearly they feel threatened, and I am glad about that. We have more power than many of us realise.

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