I’ve been challenged both for not including trans-identified males in my work on Counting Dead Women and for commemorating males who identify as transgender from Counting Dead Women on Trans Day of Remembrance.
This is a brief summary of my position so that I can refer people to it rather than rehash the same thing or ignore them.
Since I started @CountDeadWomen in January 2012, I’ve recorded the names of 1,063 UK women killed by men:
- 2012 -141 women
- 2013 -151 women
- 2014 -156 women
- 2015 -138 women
- 2016 – 125 women
- 2017 – 147 women
- 2018 – 146 women
- 2019 – at least 59 women up to 21 July
I haven’t tweeted then all from @CountDeadWomen because I didn’t plan this as a campaign, it evolved naturally.
On the 20th November- Trans Day of Remembrance 2018, I tweeted to commemorate a trans-identified male, Naomi Hersi. According to some, this makes me a sell-out.
I do not believe that ‘transwomen’ are women but I have no problem whatsoever recognising the humanity of people who identify as transgender. I have no problem acknowledging the humanity of all males. I observe the minute’s silence on Armistice Day in memory of all victims of all wars.
I recognise that many people who identify as transgender are subjected to violence, abuse, discrimination and even death because they adopt so-called gender norms that are not those stereotypically associated with their sex. I think this is deplorable. I do not believe people can change sex and I think ‘gender’ functions to maintain male supremacy and female subordination.
I can and do recognise that many males who identify as transgender are killed in circumstances related to prostitution and drug use, situations that some would call ‘high risk’. I do not see that as a reason to excuse those murders any more than I think involvement in prostitution and/or drugs is an excuse for killing women.
There is an international Trans Day of Remembrance. I am happy to acknowledge this day. There is no equivalence for the far greater numbers of women who are killed by men, killed in most cases because they are women. I think this reflects the subordination of women and the acceptance and normalisation of men’s violence against women as natural and inevitable. I believe it is neither. Counting Dead Women is a way I have chosen to address this for myself.
I believe 7 males who identify as transgender have been killed in the the UK since 2012, that is 7 people too many and 7 people who are missed and mourned by those who loved them. I have not included them in Counting Dead Women and I don’t plan to do so in the future. As I stated above, more than 1,063 women have been killed by men in the same period. That is more than 1,063 women who are missed and mourned by those who loved them.
I firmly believe in our right to women-only spaces, services and organising. I believe in that women who have been subjected to men’s violence are best served by specialist independent women-only organisations running women-only services.
I have worked in services supporting women who have been subjected to sexual and domestic violence, exploited in prostitution and/or experiencing homelessness all my adult life, for 29 years. Last year, nia, the charity where I work gave face-to-face support to over 1,500 women and girls and, where our contracts require it, a small handful of males, some of whom identify as transgender. All people we support are treated with respect and dignity.
If you think acknowledging the murder of Naomi Hersi makes me a sell-out, so be it. You do your thing, I’ll do mine. If you think I’m denying the humanity of people who identify as transgender by not including males in Counting Dead Women, so be it. You do your thing, I’ll do mine
On 6 June, scrolling through twitter, I came across the news that Munroe Bergdorf had been chosen to be an ‘influencer’ for the child protection and safeguarding charity, the NSPCC. This struck me as somewhat surprising. Like many child safeguarding charities, the NSPCC has rightly acknowledged the sexualisation of children as being both directly and indirectly harmful to children’s wellbeing; and surely recognises valuing people based on their appearance, is not something that those with an interest in children’s mental health would encourage. My limited knowledge of Bergdorf, is of someone who trades on their appearance, often highly sexualised and who is ‘famous for being famous’. So, I googled ‘NSPCC child sexualisation’ and came across guidance that they had published in February this year on protecting children from harmful sexual behaviour, and then googling Bergdorf and one of the first images I found was them sitting on a tyre, legs akimbo, mouth agape, naked except for yellow tape with matching gloves and boots.
My concerns about this apparent contradiction confirmed, I juxtaposed an image of a screenshot of the NSPCC document next to the image of Bergdorf and tweeted the following comment:
“February 2019 – NSPCC: Here’s our guidance on protecting children from harmful sexual behaviour
May 2019 – @NSPCC: Heeyyy, meet our new ‘influencer’ Munroe Bergdorf”
I assumed that people would read the image as illustrating what I saw as the contradictory positions of the two statements. Neither were screen caps (as far as I’m aware) directly from NSPCC publicity and I did not intend to imply that they were. However, one or two people interpreted the tweet in that way and seemed to think that the NSPCC had used the image, so I deleted it.
A couple of days later, someone brought to my attention that Bergdorf had commented on the tweet on Instagram. Since then, the issue and tweet has attracted attention and rather than continue to repeat myself on twitter, I’ve decided to summarise some of my responses to issues raised here:
1) The suggestion (from Bergdorf) that the shot is no more risky than anything shot by Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Rihanna, Britney or Madonna – and no one’s trying to stop them working to empower younger generation
I agree. However, these women are world famous because of a perceived musical or performing talent – not just for being photographed. I apologised to Bergdorf if my lack of knowledge of what’s going down musically with young people meant I was missing their world famous musical back catalogue. It’s also true that I wish that women’s musical output didn’t need to be illustrated with sexualised imagery – what’s wrong with a nice pair of dungarees and a cardigan?
2) The accusation that I hadn’t complained about other people associated with NSPCC who had been photographed in various states of undress and therefore I’m a bigoted cishet transphobic white definitely-not-feminist
It’s true that I haven’t, but that doesn’t mean that I think these women have anything more to offer than Bergdorf and I would probably find some of the images of them equally objectionable – but they weren’t the ones I saw being announced on twitter. It’s a common logical fallacy, sometimes known as ‘whatabouterry’ to suggest that because a person makes a comment in response to a specific issue, their response to a similar issue would be different.
To be clear, I don’t think images of any woman airbrushed within an inch of Barbie are those which should confront children and Berdorf’s so-called ‘gender identity’ is of no interest or relevance in this respect.
I’m happy to admit that I want a world where children aspire to be more than what they look like. I want role models who offer this.
I don’t want people to stop supporting the NSPCC. I do want the NSPCC to have the broadest understanding of the harms to children, and these include sexualisation and sex role stereotypes., and that gender is a hierarchy with women and girls at the bottom.
3) The accusation that I’m anti-LGBT
I’m not. To suggest otherwise ignores the concerns that many, including lesbians and gay men, have identified regarding the homophobia inherent in transgender ideology, and the increasing abuse of lesbians who defend the boundaries of same-sex attraction. On the other-hand, Bergdorf has made some reprehensible comments about lesbians.
4) The suggestion that I have said that “women – particularly queer and trans women – who have engaged in any kind of sexual or pornographic work are a danger to children.”
I haven’t said this and to state that I have is libellous.
However, the sexualisation of children is a huge and harmful global problem. It is not only absurd to obfuscate the harms to children – by males – through pornography and the sex trade, it is grossly irresponsible. Men pay to rape children and get their sexual kicks from watching images of child sexual abuse. The sexualisation of children normalises child sex abuse. This indeed is a danger to children.
5) The accusation that the image I used was ‘doctored’
It wasn’t, it was two images juxtaposed, to illustrate a contradiction. There’s an irony though, isn’t there? As one might struggle to find an image of Bergdorf that isn’t doctored.
After reflecting on the silencing of women, feminists in particular, I’ve regretted deleting my tweet but I also acknowledge that some people really might mis-read the image so I’ve shared it again here, with a few words of explanation.
Accusations of transphobia are used to silence women, whether we’re objecting to the sexualisation of children, men’s fatal violence against women or men’s attempts to coerce/ force lesbians to have sex with them. Twitter and other social media platforms are actively silencing feminists and now gay men too. It isn’t going to work. If you try to silence some of us, others will ensure that their voices are heard and add their own. We will identify, name and resist the sexual exploitation of women and children. We will fight to maintain sex based rights and protections. You can bully, threaten and assault us. We are not going away. You will not shut us up.
(This is primarily about learning to live with infertility.)
Happy 40th birthday. Except it really isn’t. The phone call yesterday took away that possibility. The phone call that was the endpoint of weeks and months of tests and drugs and gynecological examinations and surgery. First the pathway to IVF treatment of heavy duty hormones to regulate your periods which were never irregular anyway and which made you emotionally unstable for months. Though that wasn’t really first, because it followed years of trying to get pregnant the way that most people do – sex whether either or both of you wanted it or not because it was that time of the month and the tests said fertile window. Then the follicle stimulating drugs that you had to inject into your stomach to force your body to produce extra eggs where you were dangerously over-treated to the point that your abdomen hurt when you walked. Then the euphemistically named ‘eggs harvesting’ when they didn’t give you enough sedative so you partly came round mid-surgery, aware of the blood and in terrible pain but unable to move or speak on the operating table, desperately trying to let them know you were conscious. But – great news – your body had produced 28 eggs (way more than it safely should have) and at least seven were suitable for fertilisation. Might you want two or three to be implanted when they fertilised? Sure, twins would be a challenge but how exciting. Might you want to freeze some, just in case? ‘We’ll ring you tomorrow to tell you how many have fertilised.’
I can still see you answering the phone. ‘We’re sorry, zero fertilisation.’ That’s it. Done. No return to the clinic for the embryos to be put in your womb. No ‘two-week wait’ to see if they implanted, to see if you will be pregnant. You’ll call your partner, hardly able to speak with the grief and ask him to come home to be with you.
That was your one and only shot on the NHS. What will follow is three more privately funded attempts. You will know that you are ‘lucky’ to be able to do this, to have some paltry savings to plunder, a home to remortgage and a job and credit history that permitted you to get into debt.
You will become pregnant once. Elated you will buy a ‘you and your pregnancy’ book. You will never get beyond the stage when the foetus is as big as a kidney bean. You will sit in the sunshine on the stone steps to the office, sobbing after you’ve seen the blood in your pants. You will hit lows that you have not anticipated. You will become depressed, but you won’t take medication because it might affect a pregnancy. You will forever hate the acronym PMA and the phrase it stands for: ‘positive mental attitude.’ The book will go in the bin. You will come to believe that hope is the most cruel of emotions.
The fourth time will be the last. You don’t expect it to work but you want to know that you took it as far as you could. You need to stop hoping.
You are the oldest of six half-siblings with two step-siblings and six parents between you (it’s complicated); the oldest cousin of 25 from one set of grandparents alone. You have worked in busy women’s refuges bulging with women and their children. You’ve always been surrounded by children and always been remarked upon as ‘a natural’, you knew you weren’t, you’d just been trained since birth. You have always enjoyed children but will come to find their presence unbearably painful. Nothing more than a reminder of what you cannot have. You’ll feel stuck – what’s the template for long-term relationships, where is the evolution when you don’t become parents?
You will not be supported at work, in fact your line manager will use your vulnerability against you. You will walk out of your job with nothing to go to next. And it will be a blessed relief. You will be able to burn your fertility medical notes in the garden incinerator before you are able to burn your work supervision and appraisal notes. You will tell yourself that the break will be a chance to re-evaluate and decide if working in organisations supporting women subjected to men’s violence is what you really want to do. You will find that it is, that nothing else feels right. You will get a job as CEO of a fantastic organisation. It will be wonderful and sometimes hellish as funding crises threaten its viability, there will be times when you really don’t think there’s a way out, but with the board, and the senior management team, you will manage to find a way through. The commitment of the staff team and the horrors that they face in their day to day work will humble you. The strength of women subjected to men’s violence will inspire and motivate you. A young woman that you have never met will be killed by the ex- boyfriend she was trying to leave and she will change your life. You will start to count dead women and you will record their names.
You will struggle with the concept of ‘mother privilege’. You know that reproduction has been weaponised as one of the main tools of the oppression of women, you can clearly see the many and wide-ranging negative impacts on other women. You can even empathise when they describe the difficulties the endure, but you are deeply jealous and wish that you faced some of those difficulties. You watch other women battle over the concept. You mainly keep quiet. You can see both sides and admitting to either feels like a betrayal of the other.
One day, a Saturday morning just over four years after that phone call, you will read an article in the paper about a woman who has recently set up a support group for women who are struggling to come to terms with childlessness. You’re probably still sobbing when you send the email trying to find out how and whether you can take part. A few weeks later you will find yourself one of a small group of involuntarily childless women about to undertake a 10-week one-evening-a-week set of group work sessions. You will feel surprised when you hear yourself tell the group that being passed a baby feels like being passed poison to you, that you automatically recoil, that this is who you have become. You’ll go to the group and you will struggle with the concept of finding a ‘Plan B’, because your life is okay, your ‘Plan A’, which was never really a plan but just what happened is fine, except you’re not raising a family. One session, you are asked to think about the things you used to say to yourself that might have stopped you doing or achieving what you wanted. You realise that you still do this. You say no to things that you think are not for someone like you, that someone else can probably do better. You recognise that these are bound in your social and sex class socialisation. You resolve to start to say yes. Outside of this, you won’t be able to pin down how or why the group helped you, except it is very clear that it did. Something shifts.
People will continue to say thoughtless things. They’ll ask if you’ve thought of adoption or tell you that they understand because it took them some time to conceive, but it stops being so painful. The people who do will sometimes surprise you, as will those who show empathy and support that you would not have expected. You will lose friends, sometimes because they can’t be there for you, sometimes because you can’t be there for them. You will let them go, sometimes with sadness but always with acceptance and you will wish them well. Some will stay with you and you will make new ones and they will become a genuine source of joy, love and sustenance in your life. Your relationship with your partner will adapt and grow. The notion of ‘once in a lifetime holidays’ loses meaning as you get opportunities to visit places you thought that you never would and places that you’d never even heard of before. You’ll begin to love to travel and your partner will be the perfect travelling companion and much more.
You will start a PhD. Haha, yes, really. I still don’t know whether you’ll complete or pass it – but you might. One of the reasons that you started was because you were worried that what you said wouldn’t have any validity without it, but you will also come to see that academic tail-chasing can stop people from taking action. You will realise that you have something to say about men’s violence against women. Women and feminism will bring so much to your life.
You will see your brothers and sisters and many cousins many photos of their many children on facebook and you will no longer need to hide or unfollow them. You’ll feel the joy of being part of a big family again but you will regret that they are so far away. You will see your contemporaries become grandmothers and though it will be bittersweet, your smiles for them will be genuine. You will still wonder what old age will hold when you don’t have a family of your own to accompany you through it.
Your unconscious mind will remind you every year of that phone call and the miscarriage, you’ll feel a strange cold hollow that you can’t explain until you remember, but it gets easier. You won’t remember the last time you cried about your childlessness and even though you know it will not have been the last time, that will be okay.
You will notice that you have slowly begun to accept that the ‘surprise pregnancy when you had stopped trying’ is not going to happen to you. You are too old. You will not be defined by your infertility, even though it will always be part of you.
You will never know why.
You will love your mardy cat too much. You will enjoy and value your life. It will feel full and fulfilling. You will be happy. Sometimes you will even wonder whether it’s better this way. It’s fine not knowing.
At least 59 UK women have been killed by men (or where a man is the principal suspect):
- 1 January 2019: Charlotte Huggins, 33 was stabbed in the early hours of New Year’s Day. Michael Rolle has been charged with her murder.
- 1 January 2019: Jay Edmunds, 27, was killed in a house fire which killed three people. Police have said that had he been alive, Ashley Martin, 32, who died in the same fire would have been treated as a suspect for the murder of the two other people.
- 4 January 2019: Simbiso Aretha Moula, 39, was found dead with her husband Garikayi Moula, 51. Police believe she was strangled by him after which he hanged himself.
- 5 January 2019: Sarah Ashraf, 35, was found dead at home. Her brother, Khalid Ashraf, 32, has been charged with her murder.
- 11 January 2019: Asma Begum, 31, died of a neck injury. Jalal Uddin, 46, has been charged with her murder.
- 12 January 2019: Luz Margory Isaza Villegas, 50, was last seen alive. Her body was found a week later. Her husband Rodrigo Tascon, 55, has been charged with murder and preventing a proper burial.
- 14 January 2019: Leanne Unsworth, 40, died of head injuries. Shaun Sanders, 39, has been charged with her murder.
- 15 January 2019: Christy Walshe, 40, was shot in the face. Michael Strudwick, 33, has been charged with her murder and possession of a firearm.
- 16 January 2019: Alison Hunt, 42, was stabbed to death. Vernon Holmes, 47, has been charged with her murder.
- 22 January 2019: Mary Annie Sowerby, 69, known as Annie, was found seriously injured and died from her injuries. Her son, Lee Sowerby, 40, has been charged with her murder.
- 27 January 2019: Margaret Smyth, 29, known as Maggie, was missing for six days before police found her body. A 39-year old man has been charged with her murder.
- 1 February 2019: Mary Page, 68, was found dead at home with a head injury. Her son, Mathew Page, 40, has been charged with her murder.
- 1-2 February 2019: Antoinette Donnegan, 52, was found strangled on 7 March but it is believed she was killed 5 weeks before. A post-mortem found she had seven broken ribs, a deep gash to her head, and had been strangled by clothing. Kristian Smith, 41, has been charged with her murder.
- 7 February 2019: Rosie Derbyshire, 27, died from serious head injuries. Benjamin Topping, 25, said to be her boyfriend, has been charged with her murder.
- 8 February 2019: Aliny Mendes, 39, was stabbed to death. Her estranged husband, Ricardo Godinho, 41, has been charged with her murder.
- 11 February 2019: Sarah Henshaw, 40, was found dead in Leeds. Shortly afterward, a man reportedly fell from a bridge and was being treated in hospital prior to being questioned in relation to her death.
- 14 February 2019: Dorothy Bowyer, 77, was found dead. William Blundson, 23, has been charged with her murder and criminal damage.
- 15 February 2019: A 73-year old woman who has not yet been named died 11 days after being mugged. Marius Lucian, 21 and a 15-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons have been charged with two counts of robbery, assault with intent to commit robbery and manslaughter. Two other women were also attacked.
- 25 February 2019: Jodi Miller, 21, was found with serious injuries and died after being taken to hospital. Kahar Ali, 29, has been charged with her murder.
- 1 March 2019: Jodie Chesney, 17, was stabbed in the back whilst walking through a park with friends. Manuel Petrovic, 20, has been charged with murder.
- 2 March 2019: Elize Stevens, 50, was stabbed to death. Ian Levy, 54, has been charged in relation to her death.
- 6 March 2019: Laureline Garcia-Bertaux, 34, was found in a shallow grave in her garden in west London. She had been strangled. Her ex-boyfriend Kirill Belorusov, 32, was arrested in Estonia on 13 March and was being held in by police before extradition proceedings are completed.
- 7 March 2019: Giselle Marimon-Herrera, 37 and her 15-year-old daughter Allison, were found dead. Police have said that Allison was strangled and there was a “strong possibility” her mother had died in the same way. Russell Steele, 38, said to be Giselle’s partner is believed to killed them before hanging himself.
- 7 March 2019: (see above) Allison Marimon-Herrera, 15 and her 37-year-old mother, Giselle, were found dead. Police have said that Allison was strangled and there was a “strong possibility” her mother had died in the same way. Russell Steele, 38, said to be Giselle’s partner is believed to killed them before hanging himself.
- 9 March 2019: Lalal Kamara, 26, was found dead in a flat in Denton, Greater Manchester. Mustapha Dia, 21, has been charged with her murder.
- 10 March 2019: Alice Morrow, 53, was found dead following an assault. William Hutchinson, 42, has been charged with her murder.
- 17 March 2019: Rachel Evans, 46, was found dead. Carl Harrison, 42, pleaded guilty to her murder, assault by beating and making threats to kill.
- 20 March 2019: Alison McKenzie, 55, was found dead. Ian McKenzie, 34, who is said to be her son, has been charged with her murder.
- 27 March 2019: Barbara Heywood, 80, was stabbed to death. An 88-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of her murder and later detained under the Mental Health Act.
- 2 April 2019: Paula Meadows, 83, was found dead at home. Her 84-year-old husband, Tony Meadows is believed to have killed her before killing himself.
- 9 April 2019: Anna Reed, 22, from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, was found dead in Switzerland, A most mortem revealed that she died from asphyxiation and had small fractures and cuts on her body. Swiss police have reported that her boyfriend Marc Schatzle, 29, has been formally accused of intentional murder.
- 17 April 2019: Sarah Fuller, 35, was found dead by police, she had been strangled. Her partner Jason Carr, 35, has been charged with her murder.
- 20 April 2019: Megan Newton, 18, was found dead. Joseph Trevor, 18, has been charged with her murder.
- 21 April 2019: Leah Fray, 27, was found dead in a burning flat. Curtis Moyse, 18, has been charged with murder, rape and arson.
- 23 April 2019: Siama Riaz, 33, was found dead after police were called to attend to a stabbing. Mohammed Choudhry, 36, has been charged with murder.
- 23 April 2019: Sammy-Lee Lodwig, 22, was found stabbed to death at home. Jason Farrell, 49, has been charged with her murder.
- 26 April 2019: Amy Parsons, 35, was found dead. Her partner, Roderick Deakin-White, 37,has been charged with her murder.
- 29 April 2019: Emma Faulds, 39, was last seen alive. Ross Willox, 40, was charged with her murder on 10 May. Her body was found on 12 June.
- 3 May 2019: Ellie Gould, 17, was found dead. A 17-year-old male has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody.
- 6 May 219: Joanne Hamer, 48, was found dead at home when police attended due to fears for her safety. Her husband Ian Hamer, 53, has been charged with her murder.
- 10 May 2019: Mavis Long, 77, was found dead at home. Her husband Frank Long, 80, has been charged with her murder.
- 12 May 2019: Julia Rawson, 42, was last seen alive. Nathan Maynard-Ellis, 28, and David Leesley, 23 have been charged in relation to her murder.
- 20 May 2019: Tatiana Koudriavtsev, 68 and 69-year-old husband were found dead. Their son Sergey Koudriavtsev, 48, has been charged with their murders.
- 24 May 2019: Jayde Hall, 26, was stabbed to death. 46-year-old Carl Scott was charged with her murder.
- 27 May 2019: Elizabeth McShane, 39, was found dead with her partner Hugh Sinclair, 33. Police are treating their deaths as murder-suicide.
- 29 May 2019: Linda Treeby, 64, was found with serious injuries after emergency services were called but died shortly afterwards. Her partner Andrew Highton, 50, has been charged with her murder.
- 5 June 2019: Regan Tierney, 27, was found stabbed to death. Her ex-partner, Daniel Patten, 31, who is suspected of having killed her died in hospital.
- 9 June 2018: Neomi Smith, 23, was stabbed to death in the street. Keith Rizzo, 23, has been charged with her murder.
- 17 June 2019: Safie Xheta, 35, was killed by knife wounds to the neck. Her husband Fatos Xheta, 45, was treated for injuries and later charged with her murder.
- 20 June 2019: Valerie Richardson, 49, was violently killed in her home by Ross Thom, 39, who then killed himself.
- 23 June 2019: Lucy Rushton, 30, (also known as Lucy Dyson) died due to multiple injuries. Shaun Dyson has been charged with her murder.
- 29 June 2019: Kelly Fauvrelle, 26, was stabbed at home in an attack that also killed her unborn baby. Aaron McKenzie, 25, has been charged in relation to their deaths.
- 1 July 2019: Joanna Thompson, 50, died after suffering neck injuries at her home, a teenage male was arrested and later detained under the Mental Health Act.
- 2 July 2019: Ligita Kostiajeviene, 42, died of severe head injuries following an armed siege at a house in Peterborough. Another woman and a child were injured in the attack. Andriejus Kostiajevas, 46, has been charged with murder, attempted murder, assault causing grievous bodily harm and assault on an emergency worker.
- 11 July 2019: Carol Milne, 59, was found dead in her home in Aberdeen. Her 24-year-old son has been charged in relation to her death.
- 12 July 2019: Layla Arezo, 74, and her husband Akbar Arezo, 64, were stabbed to death. Their son Mustafa Arezo, 31, has been charged with their murders.
- 17 July 2019: Lesley Pearson, 74, was reported missing in Spain where she had lived for some time. Her body was found buried in a shallow grave on 21 July. Francisco Becerra, 45, has been charged with her murder.
- 18 July 2019: Diane Dyer, 61, was beaten to death. She died of blunt force trauma injuries to her head and face. David McCorkell, 54, has been charged with her murder.
- 21 July 2019: Kayleigh Hanks, 29, was strangled. Ian Paton, 36, has been charged with her murder.
Waiting for further information regarding the deaths of Ruth Greenhough, Alem Shimeni, Susan Waring, Janet Hoskins, Gemma Palmer, Annabelle Lancaster, Debbie Twist, Lauren Griffiths and Amanda Gretton.
Last updated 28 July 2019
In memory of Kirsty Treloar
New Year’s Day 2019 and before dawn on the first morning of the New Year a woman in her early thirties, whose name has not yet been made public, was stabbed to death in Camberwell, South London. She will be the 1,000th woman killed by a man whose name I will record on my website Counting Dead Women.
7 years ago today, 20 year-old Kirsty Treloar received a text from Miles Williams, the 19 year-old father of her not-yet 4-week old baby. The text read
“Okay wer all gud now and my new yrs ressy is that i aint going to hit u again and i won’t hit u 4 this yr next yr the yr after that the next yr after that.”
And went on to say “But I wont u to swear on (their daughter’s) life u wont p.ss me off and do things to make me angry love you 4 eva.’
Kirsty was terrified of Miles and had been trying to extricate herself from their relationship; she told him that she didn’t want to see him. She’d spent Christmas at her family home in Hackney. The next day, Kirsty paid the price of lack of compliance. Williams broke in to the house and dragged her in to a car, stabbing and wounding her sister and brother who were trying to protect her. She was later found dead, dumped beside bins some two miles away. She had been stabbed 29 times.
A few weeks before, Kirsty had been referred to nia, the charity where I work, which supports women and girls subjected to men’s violence. I was told of Kirsty’s death and looked on the internet to see if I could find out what had happened. But Kirsty wasn’t the only woman killed by a man at the start of the year, there were multiple reports of fatalities of women and so I made a note of their names because I wanted to know how many there were. It turned out that in the first three days of 2012, eight women in the UK had been killed by men : three shot, one stabbed, one strangled with a dog lead, strangled, one – a 77 year-old woman – beaten to death with her own walking stick, and an 87 year old woman battered to death with blunt force trauma by her own grandson.
Seven years and 1000 women later, I haven’t stopped recording the names of women killed by men. In reality, the number is even higher, every year there are a number of unsolved cases where women have been killed and statistically almost all of them will have been committed by men. There are cases where men appear to have played a direct role in the death of a woman but they manage to evade prosecution. I suspect there are women whose disappearance has gone unreported, or whose absence has gone unacknowledged and whose body will never be found. There are women who die of secondary causes related to long histories of abuse by men and there are women who kill themselves because that is the only route they can see to end the pain of violence and abuse.
I continued because I cannot bring myself to say that the next woman killed isn’t important. I continue because a focus on intimate partner homicides at the exclusion of other killings disguises and diminishes the true rate of men’s fatal violence against women. I continue because the killing of women by their current and former partners is so normalised that it is not recognised as a national emergency. I continue because the need for and benefits of specialist single-sex services for women victim-survivors of men’s violence are still subjected to challenge and given insufficient regard. I continue because I want someone to bear witness and commemorate our sisters. I continue because the slaying of women by men, although it has happened at least 1,000 times in seven years, continues to be described by the police and reported in the media as an ‘isolated incident.’ I continue because I believe the more we look, the more we can learn and the more effectively we can take steps to reduce men’s violence against women. I continue because I believe a different world is possible, but it is only by consciously committing to making changes that look at the multitude of factors that support and enable men’s violence against women, that will give us a hope in hell of getting there.
2 British women and a third who had lived in London for 20 years went missing abroad within 6 days. All three were found dead within 6 days.
This is Karen Cleary-Brown. She was 44 years old and had lived in Islington, N, London for 20 years. She had been missing in Jamaica since 25 November. She was found dead on 3rd December. A man who was working on her property has been charged with her murder.
This is Barbara Findley. She was 58 and from Kennington, S. London but had lived in Jamaica for the last 5 years. She was reported missing on 29 November. She was found dead on 5 December.
This is Grace Millane. She was 22 and from Essex. She went missing on 1st December whilst travelling in New Zealand. She was found dead on 9 December. A 26-year-old male, who has been granted name suppression whilst awaiting trial, has appeared in court in relation to her death.
How many of those names did you know? How many of their photos had you seen?
The killing of Grace Millane is an atrocity, but no more so than the killings of Karen Clearly-Brown and Barbara Findley, no more so than the (at least) 127 other UK women suspected to have been killed by men (or where a man or men are the principal suspects) so far this year.
Karen Cleary-Brown, Barbara Findley and Grace Millane – 3 missing women, 3 women found dead.
The killings of women who are not young, not white, not killed on holiday, not killed by a stranger should be no less shocking or upsetting. They are not less worthy of media or public attention or mourning. We need to stop the hierarchy of dead women.
This is a short clip on me on BBC World News talking about men’s fatal violence in the UK ON 26 Nov 2018.