Counting Dead Women

2020: UK women killed by men or where a man is the principal suspect

2019: 115 UK women killed by men or where a man is the principal suspect

2018: 165 UK women killed by men or where a man is the principal suspect

2017: 150 UK women killed by men or where a man is the principal suspect

2016: 125 UK women killed by men or where a man is the principal suspect 

2015:   138 UK women killed by men or where a man is the principal suspect

2014156 UK women killed by men or where a man is the principal suspect 

2013151 UK  women killed by men or where a man is the principal suspect

2012: 141 UK women killed by men or where a man is the principal suspect

This short film clip introduces the Femicide Census 

Counting Dead Women in Other Countries

Coronavirus Doesn’t Cause Men’s Violence Against Women

I’ve been tracking men’s fatal violence against women and commemorating the UK women killed by men for 9 ½ years through my work on Counting Dead Women and for The Femicide Census, the team I work with have submitted Freedom of Information Requests to the police about men’s fatal violence against women in the UK going back to 2009.  From the work of the Femicide Census, we know that over the last decade, on average a woman has been killed by a man in the UK every 3 days. So, using the average over the last 10 years, we might expect to see 7 women killed by men in 21 days, but 14 women and two children have been killed by men in the first three weeks of coronavirus lockdown in the UK.

We have to be cautious about talking about increases in men killing women. Reality is more complex than 11-year averages, there are always times when the numbers are higher or times when they are lower, there might be a week or longer where no man kills a woman. But we can say that the number of women killed by men in the three weeks between 23 March and 12 April is the highest it has been for at least 11 years and is double that of a hypothetical average 21 days over the last 10 years. We don’t know yet whether this inflated rate will continue, it is possible that we will see a lower rate over the next few weeks.

The table below shows the actual numbers of women killed by men in the three weeks between 23 March and 12 April since 2009, and the relationship between the perpetrator and the woman he killed. [i]

Women killed by men 2009-2019 and alleged killings of women by men in 2020

If the two children killed by Robert Needham were included, we’d see 3 females killed by their fathers in 2020 and a total of 16 women and girls dead at the hands of a man.[ii]

We can see that over the same three-week period, annually the numbers of women killed by men ranged from 2 women (in 2013, 2018 and 2019) and was as high as 11 women in 2009, averaging at 5 women in this three week period between 2009 and 2019; but that in 2020, at least 14 women and two children have been killed. The reality may even be higher,for example, a man has been questioned regarding the killing of Natasha Melendez in N. Ireland on 1st April but as far as I know, no-one’s been charged yet, so I haven’t included her in the figures.

Looking back over pre-lockdown 2020, 32 days passed as 14 women’s lives were taken. [iii] So it isn’t that 2020 in general has seen higher levels of men’s fatal violence against women.

Lazy reporting mixed with a lack of understanding of the dynamics of abuse have led to stories about increases in the domestic abuse, with headlines about men’s fatal violence reported as being due to a man being pushed to kill because of financial concerns. Another report said that a man claimed he bludgeoned ‘his wife’ to death because she asked him to move out because he had the virus. I don’t believe coronavirus creates violent men.  What we’re seeing is a window into the levels of abuse that women live with all the time. Coronavirus may exacerbate triggers, though I might prefer to call them excuses, lockdown may restrict some women’s access to support or escape and it may even curtail measures some men take to keep their own violence under control. But coronavirus doesn’t make a killer out of a man who has never been controlling, abusive and/or violent to the woman he is in a relationship with. And we must surely extend our concerns to the women and children who will live through the coronavirus lockdown with an abuser and survive. I am counting dead women, but I would never say that it is only the dead women who count.

We need to ask why it seems that only or mainly men are pushed to kill because of frustrations or fears triggered by coronavirus or related restrictions. When we do, we come to the same answers that we’d arrive at by asking why men kill women at rates way above those at which women kill men: sex inequality as expressed through male control and dominance both in society as a whole and in individual relationships, men’s entitlement and their expectations to be served and serviced by women, masculine sex-stereotypes and gender norms, the objectification of women, and so on.

It’s also important to remember that men’s violence against women is not restricted to women that they are in a relationship with. Most people have no idea about the levels of child sex abuse that happens within families, we don’t know whether lockdown may be giving men increased or decreased opportunities to rape and sexually abuse the children in their household, but if it is the former, these children and society as a whole will be paying the price and seeing the impacts for decades.

Perhaps, despite the far greater numbers of people being killed by the virus including the failure to provide adequate protection to those exposed through efforts to treat the sick and dying, and the failure of the state to listen and act on the advice of experts, we will somehow see the extent of men’s violence against women and children more clearly. Perhaps also, we will say that this, men’s violence against women, girls and children, is not inevitable, it is not acceptable and the authorities, or someone – or we – can and should do more. Perhaps we will get angry that the state does not pay heed to the voices of experts and take the actions that feminists have been calling for, for decades.

If we’re alarmed at an apparent increase in men’s fatal violence against women, why aren’t we equally alarmed at the numbers of women being killed by men all the time? We surely cannot say that the average number of women killed by men is acceptable.  If 14 women and two children dead in 21 days at the hands of a man who chose not to curb his violence and aggression is too much, would seven dead women be fine?  No, no it wouldn’t. Let’s recognise the ways that women’s lives are limited, diminished and controlled by men’s dominance. Let’s demand better for women and children. Let’s aim to end men’s sex-based violence against women. Let’s hold the state to account. Let us recognise that together, taking responsibility, we could do more and we could make a difference.



[i]The data for 2009 – 2018 is from the Femicide Census, 2019 is from Counting Dead Women.  We collect data differently on the two projects, I do Counting Dead Women from internet searches (and people contacting my twitter account for the project) but the Femicide Census data is collected via annual FOI requests to all the UK police services. We haven’t completed the FOIs for 2019 yet so it’s possible that there are more women in the equivalent period in 2019 that I didn’t find with my internet searches.

[ii]

 NameAgeDate of death (2020)
1Nageeba Alariqy4723-Mar 
2Elsie Smith7125-Mar 
3Kelly Stewart4126-Mar 
4Ruth Williams6727-Mar 
5Victoria Woodhall3129-Mar 
6Kelly Fitzgibbons4029-Mar 
7Ava Needham429-Mar 
8Lexi Needham229-Mar 
9Caroline Walker5029-Mar 
10Katie Walker2429-Mar 
11Zobaidah Salangy2829-Mar 
12Betty Dobbin8230-Mar 
13Sonia Calvi5601-Apr 
14Maryan Ismail5706-Apr 
15Daneilla Espirito Santo2308-Apr 
16Ruth Brown5211-Apr 

[iii] Counting Dead Women 2020 (15 Feb -19 March)


2020

At least 49 UK women have been killed by men (or where a man is the principal suspect) so far in 2020:

  1. 1 January 2020: Helen Almay, 39, was stabbed to death alon with her partner. Helen’s estranged husband, Rhys Hancock, 39, has been charged with their murders.
  2. 1 January 2020: Magdalena Pacault, 46, was  strangled and beaten to death in her home in Liverpool.  Her partner, Piotr Cichy, 48, has been charged with her murder.
  3. 3 January 2020: Katherine Bevan, 53, was found dead in an animal pen on at farm in Devon where she volunteered. Luigi Palmas, 26, was charged with her murder and a further count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm on 20th January.
  4. 16 January 2020: Claire Nash, 33, died in Newmarket, Suffolk. She had been strangled and stabbed 10 times. Charles Jessop, 33, has been charged with her murder.
  5. 16 January 2020: Kelly Price, 39 was found dead at her home in Gillingham, Kent. Her partner, Benjamin Bowler, 40, has been charged in relation to her death.
  6. 20 February 2020: Tahereh Pirali-Dashti, 40, died in hospital after police had been called to A406, in London to attend to reports of an altercation between the occupants of two vehicles. Robert Barrow 54, was charged with her murder on 17 April and also with assault of a 56-year-old man.
  7. 22 January 2020: Beverley Denahy, 61, was found with serious head injuries in her home in N.E. London  after her husband called the police concerned for her welfare. Their 24-year-old son, Mitchell Denahy, has been charged in relation to her death.
  8. 23 January 2020: Gian Kaur Bhandal, 83, was found dead at home in Stourbridge by paramedics, after her son called an ambulance. She  she had suffered a fractured sternum, a broken arm and several broken ribs. Her husband, Pargan Singh Bhandal, 83,has been charged with her murder.
  9. 24 January  2020: Margaret Grant, 79, died in hospital after being assaulted in her home in Edinburgh. Police are looking for a white male.
  10. 1 February 2020: Kymberli Sweeney, 27, was found dead by ambulance crew in Paisley . Shaun Wilson, 27, has been charged in relation to her death.
  11. 9 February 2020: Mary Haley, 75, was found dead in her home in Hamilton, Lanarkshire. Her son Craig Haley, 35, has been charged in relation to her death.
  12. 15 February 2020: Cherith Van Der Ploeg, 60, was found dead in her home in Norwich. Her estranged husband Cornelius Van Der Ploeg, 63, has been charged with her murder.
  13. 15 February 2020: Ann Mowbray, 80, was found dead with multiple stab injuries at home in Studley, Warwickshire. Her husband Ronald Mowbray, 82, has been charged with her murder.
  14. 22 February 2020: Debbie Zurick, 56, was shot dead by her husband John Zurick, 67; he later died of self inflicted injuries.
  15. 25 February 2020: Jasbir Kaur, 54, and her husband were found dead at home. Her son, Anmol Chana, 25, had been charged in relation to their deaths.
  16. 25 Febrary 2020: Li Qing Wang, 35, was found stabbed to death in Leyton, East London. Yixing Song, 54, has been charged with her murder.
  17. 26 February 2020: Janice Woolford, 68, was stabbed to death in a home in Sunderland. Police believe she was killed by her son, Michael Woolford, 44, who is thought to have killed himself.
  18. 2 March 2020: Bhavini Pravin, 21, was stabbed and found seriously injured at a property in Leicestershire, she was pronounced dead by ambulance staff.  Jigukumar Sorthi, 23, has been charged with her murder.
  19. 2 March 2020: Valerie Jozunas, 78, was found dead in a house in Safron Walsen, Essex when emergency services were called to attend to her welfare. Mark Jozunas, 49, has been charged with her murder. 
  20. 6 March 2020: Janice Child, 64, was found dead at a property in Liverpool. A post mortem found she died of severe blunt force injuries to the head. Her son, Robert Children, 37, has been charged with her murder.
  21. 13 March 2020: Vanita Nowell, 68, was found dead at home in London by emergency services. She had died of head injuries and respiratory failure. Her son, Andrew Sheperd, has been charged with her murder.
  22. 15 March 2020: Tracey Kidd, 57, was found dead with head injuries by police responding to a call about concern for her welfare at a property in London. Paul Vissers, 40, has been charged with her murder.
  23. 16 March 2020: Nelly Mustafa, 43, and her neighbour Zahida Bi, 52, were stabbed to death in Birmingham. Tamer Mustafa, 40, Nelly’s husband, has been charged with their murders.
  24. 16 March 2020: Zahida Bi, 52, was stabbed to death along with her neighbour, Nelly Mustafa, 43.  The husband of her neighbour, Tamer Mustafa, 40, has been charged with their murders.
  25. 19 March 2020: Shadika Mohsin Patel, 40, was found with stabbing injuries in the street in East London and later died in hospital. So far, three men have been arrested in relation to her death.
  26. 19 March 2020: A 74-year-old woman who hasn’t been named yet, was found dead at a property in Kirkaldy. Trevor Kidd, 41, has been charged in relation to her death.
  27. 22 March 2020: Wendy Morse, 71, was found dead at her home in Staffordshire. Kenneth Andrew McDermid, 42, was extradited from Sweden where he had been detained in custody, and was charged with her murder in May 2020.
  28. 23 March 2020: Nageeba Alariqy, 47, was found dead at home in Birmingham, the cause of her death has been given at pressure to the neck. Abeen Thabet, 49, has been charged with her murder.
  29. 25 March 2020: Elsie Smith,71, was found dead at home with stab wounds to her head and neck. Police believe she was killed by her husband Alan Smith, 71, before he killed himself.
  30. 26 March 2020: Kelly Stewart, 41, died of impact injuries to her head. She was found dead in a churchyard, in Newham, E. London. Kieran Rifat, 21, has been charged with her murder.
  31. 27 March 2020: Ruth Williams, 67, was found unconscious at home in Wales by the police. She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead. Anthony Williams, 69, her husband of 44 years, has been charged with her murder.
  32. 29 March 2020: Victoria Woodhall, 31, was stabbed to death. Her former husband, Craig Woodhall, 40, has been charged with her murder.
  33. 29 March 2020: Kelly Fitzgibbons, 40, and her two daughters, Ava, 4 and Lexi, 2, were shot dead. It is believed that her husband, the children’s father Robert Needham, 42, killed them and the family dog before killing himself.
  34. 29 March 2020: Caroline Walker, 50, and her daughter, Katie Walker, 24, was stabbed to death by their husband/father Gary Waller, 57. Their bodies were discovered after a fire in which Gary Walker killed  himself.
  35. 29 March 2020: Katie Walker, 24, and her daughter, Caroline Walker, 50, was stabbed to death by their father/husband Gary Waller, 57. Their bodies were discovered after a fire in which Gary Walker killed  himself
  36. 29 March 2020: Zobaidah Salangy, 28, was last seen at home before, reportedly, going for a run. Her husband Nezam Salangy, 42, has been charged with her murder and Mohammed Ramin Salangy, 29, has been charged with assisting an offender.
  37. 30 March 2020: Betty Dobbin, 82, was discovered dead at home by police in Belfast. Her grandson, Alan Gingles, 32, who lived with her, has been charged with her murder.
  38. 1 April 2020: Sonia Calvi, 56, and a 59-year-old man were stabbed to death in London. Daniel Briceno-Garcia, 44, has been charged with their murders.
  39. 8 April 2020: Marian Ismail, 57, Police attending a call of concern about a woman’s welfare in Edmonton, London, found Marian Ismail, with serious injuries. Attending ambulance services pronounced her dead. Her husband, Hussain Yusuf Egal, 65, has been charged with her murder.
  40. 8 April 2020: Daneilla Espirito Santo, 23, was found dead in her flat in Grantham. Julio Jesus, 30, has been charged with manslaughter and ABH.
  41. 11 April 2020: Ruth Brown, 52, was found dead in a house in Bognor Regis. Wayne Morris, 47, has been charged with her murder.
  42. 16 April 2020: Denise Keane-Barnett-Simmon, 36, died in hospital after a fire at her home. Damion Simmons, 44, has been charged with murder, arson with intent to endanger life, criminal damage, disclosing private & sexual photographs with intent to cause distress, and voyeurism.
  43. 18 April 2020: Jadwiga Szczygielsk, 77,  was found dead in her home in Edinburgh. A 44-year-old man has been charged with her murder.
  44. 22 April 2020: Emma McParland, 39, was stabbed to death in Belfast. Her son, Jordan Kennedy, 21, has been charged with her murder.
  45. 30 April 2020: Louise Aitchison, 33, was found dead by paramedics in her home in East Kilbride, Scotland. A 35-year-old man has been charged with her murder.
  46. 3 May 2020: Silke Hartshorne-Jones, 41, was shot dead at her home in Suffolk. Her husband, Peter Hartshorne-Jones, 51, has been charged with her murder.
  47. 7 May 2020: Hyacinth Morris, 67, was found dead in her home in Manchester. Leroy Planton, 41, said to live at the same address was located after a police search and has been detained under the mental health act.
  48. 8 May 2020: Louise Smith, 16,  was last seen alive. Her body was found in woodland in Hampshire on 21 May. Shane lee Mays, 29, was charged with her murder on 28 May.
  49. 10 May 2020: Claire Parry, 41, died in hospital of a brain injury caused by strangulation the day after being found in a car park. Her partner Timothy Brehmer, 41, has been charged with her murder.
  50. 17 May 2020: Aya Hachem, 19, died shortly after she was shot from a car window in Blackburn, Lancashire. Police are seeking occupants of a light-coloured, possibly metallic green, Toyota Avensis, which was seen leaving the scene of the shooting.
  51. 20 May 2020: Melissa Belshaw, 32, was stabbed to death at her home in Wigan. Andrew Wadsworth, 36, said to be her ex-partner. Has been charged with her murder.

Waiting for further information regarding the deaths of  Wendy Morse, Natasha Melendez, Josephine Kaye, Beata Lis, Tina Cartlidge, Tara Stiles and a 50-year old woman who died in Dumfries on 13 April.

Please let me know if you have information regarding the deaths of these or any other women/girls (aged 13 and over)  where a man/men is/are the primary suspects in the UK or UK women killed abroad in 2020

Last updated 16 April 2020.

The importance of women only spaces and services for women and girls who’ve been subjected to men’s violence

Speech to Scottish Parliament – January 14th 2020

 

nia is a charity based in north east London run by women, for women, girls and children who have been subjected to men’s violence– primarily sexual and domestic violence and abuse, including prostitution. nia has been operating for 45 years,  We provide advocacy and counselling through East London Rape Crisis for women and girls aged 11 and above, regardless of when they were subjected to sexual violence, who perpetrated it and how long ago it happened, we have two refuges, one for women with problematic substance use and one for women who have been involved in prostitution and we were provide a range of community based services for women subjected to domestic violence and abuse and prostitution. I’ve been CEO  of nia for the last 10 and altogether I’ve been working in specialist women’s services for almost 30 years. Last year, across nia’s various projects, we provided one-to-one face-to-face support to just over 1,500 women and girls, 8 men – and 5 people who identified as transgender, all male. We haven’t yet been approached by a trans-identified female, but given the changing profile of the trans population, we know this is just a matter of time. Then again, because they don’t consider themselves to be women and we are a women’s charity, perhaps they’ll choose not to access us; perhaps, we can expect to be contacted by them if they need us if they join the growing number of de-transitioners.

Where contracts require us to support men and some do, we do so; and male victims are treated with the same levels of skill, respect and dignity as women and girls. We do not support men in venues that we use to support women and we do not support men at all in our refuges or our therapeutic groups. We do not employ males.

A couple of years ago, nia’s board of trustees, in the latter stages of finalising the charity’s strategic plan, took the decision to identify supporting the preservation of women-only services as one of our strategic objectives. We agreed that if we did not speak out, we were being complicit in the erosion of women-led specialist services for survivors of men’s violence. We have developed a ‘Prioritising Women Policy’ which meets our obligations under the Equality Act and uses the single sex exemptions permitted therein.

We knew that this decision was not without risks. Like many small and medium sized charities, nia cannot take financial security for granted. We’re run on a handful of 2-3 year contracts. Each winter, as we look at the financial forecast for the coming year, there is a deficit. We carefully balance spending requirements, contracts that are still running, looking at those that are ending and asking ourselves whether we have a chance of retaining them, and how much we have in reserves just in case, and we hold our breath and tentatively continue. I’ve been doing this for 10 years now with nia and it doesn’t get any easier, and some years are definitely worse than others. Anyway, despite this, nia’s board bravely decided to focus on the bigger picture of what is best for women, in particular those subjected to men’s violence – and agreed that if, as a charity, this was going to be the hill we died on, we would go down fighting. We would go down fighting and prioritising women.

One of the most important ways that we can contribute to creating a ‘safe space’ for women who have experienced men’s violence ……. is quite simply by keeping men out. Men are far more likely to commit violence than women. Exclude men and you are very significantly reducing the prevalence of violence.

Over the last 10 years, 85% of those found guilty of domestic homicide in Scotland were males. Also in Scotland, in the year ending March 2017:

  • 86% of homicide suspects were male
  • 79% of prosecutions for common assault were of males
  • 91% of prosecutions for serious assault were of males
  • 98% of prosecutions for sexual violence were against males.

I’m not naive or dishonest enough to claim that women are never violent – of course some women are.  But when women are violent – and remember it’s statistically way less frequent – when we are – we generally cause less harm than violent men. And, there is no credible evidence suggesting that males who identify as trans commit violence against women at lower rates than those who do not.  I’m not saying that men who identify as transgender are inherently violent or that all trans identified males are violent – just that they are no less violent that other males. And they are males.

In addition, but just as importantly, we know -– and independent research confirms – that women subjected to men’s violence feel safer and fare better in women only spaces and value those run by independent women-led charities most of all.

Some say that ‘we’ – those of us working is specialist women’s services – can use risk assessments to assess whether a male who says he is trans poses a risk to women.  Let’s look at this in relation to women’s refuges:

When a risk assessment is completed with a woman looking to move in to a refuge, time is usually critical. You need to help her to get to a place of safety and quickly. She’s either already left her home or is planning to do so urgently because she is in danger. Maybe she’s called and needs to get out whilst her partner is due to be out of the house for a few hours.  You’re also looking at whether the location of the refuge offers safety and can meet the woman’s needs and those of her children if she has them, and whether she herself might pose a risk to others living in the refuge. With risk assessment, you’re assessing the risk she is facing from her partner and planning how you can help her to reduce the often intensified risks associated with actually leaving an abusive man. The Femicide Census, a project I co-founded, told us that a third of women who are killed by a partner/ex-partner, are killed after they have left him. Of these about a third are killed within the first month and two-thirds within the first year. Leaving an abusive man is dangerous and difficult. Risk assessment with safety planning can help save lives.  Risk assessment is not about assessing whether or not a woman is, in reality, a violent male.

If you expect refuges to accommodate males who identify as trans, you’re asking staff in already under-resourced women’s refuges (Scottish Women’s Aid report that cuts to Scottish refuges have increased from 14% to 41% between 2009 and 2016. Their annual survey reported that 30% of survivors who sought refuge in Scotland had to be turned away), you’re asking staff in already under-resourced women’s refuges, to differentiate between:

  • Transgender people born male who have genuinely experienced men’s violence and have managed to unpick their male socialisation and who will not use their sense of male entitlement or sexism or misogyny to harm, reduce and control women in the refuge and
  • those transgender people born male who have genuinely experienced violence but are still dripping in male privilege and advantage and who hate or resent women; and
  • those transgender people born male who are narcissistic perpetrators who have managed to convince themselves (and others) that they are victims , and
  • those transgender people born male who are seeking validation, which some, if they were self-aware and able to be honest, would recognise as a need that can never be satisfied, and who might prioritise their validation above the needs of women, and
  • those transgender people born male who are autogynophiles (that’s a male who is sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female) or other fetishists, and,
  • finally other men who are pretending to be trans in order to track down a particular woman or predatory men trying to access women in general. And we do know that violent and abusive men lie and manipulate. Violent and abusive men stand up in court, swear to tell the truth and lie and manipulate.

No one’s yet explained to me how risk assessment is supposed to screen out most of those men – let alone convinced me of the wisdom of trying to make a bedroom for a fox in a henhouse. Risk assessment is about identifying risks posed by violent men and mitigating against them, not chucking in a few extra because you can.

But …. let’s set that small matter aside. Let’s imagine for a moment that you could, as some claim, risk assess trans-identified males for their suitability and safety to inhabit your space or attend your service, which of course is now no-longer women-only. What you’re ignoring if you do this is the impact of men’s presence on women who’ve been subjected to men’s violence.

It’s not unusual for women who’ve been subjected to men’s violence to develop a trauma response. These sometimes develop after a single incident of violence, especially with sexual violence, but also sometimes after years or months of living in fear, walking on egg-shells, recognising that tone of voice, that look in the eyes, that sigh, that pause, that silence, that change in his breathing. Some women have lived this, with a succession of perpetrators starting from their dad, all their lives.

A trauma informed approach is based on understanding the physical, social, and emotional impact of trauma caused by experiencing sexual and domestic violence and abuse. A trauma-informed service understands the importance of creating an environment – physical and relational – that feels safe to victims-survivors in all the ways I’ve just mentioned. A trauma-informed safe space creates space for action and recovery from violence and abuse and places the woman victim-survivor in control and in the centre. For many women this absolutely means excluding men from that space, including those who don’t identify as men.

Women are gas-lighted (manipulated to question their own judgement or even sanity) by their abusive male partners all the time. It is a cornerstone of coercive control. As a service provider you are in a position of power, no matter how you try to balance this out, and of course we do as much as possible to balance this out, but ultimately it is inescapable. You are not offering a trauma informed environment if you, in your position of power, gaslight traumatised women and pretend that someone that you both really know is a man, is actually a woman.  It is furthering the abuse to then expect women to share what you say is women-only space with males who say that they are women, because you and they know are not.  Part of your role is to help women to learn to trust themselves again, not replace the batshit that their abuser has filled their head with, with a new version. All this is on top of what I looked at earlier, that statistically women are safer in women only environments – because men commit violence at significantly higher rates.

It isn’t just women experiencing serious and debilitating trauma who benefit from women-only spaces and services. Women tell us that they want and value women-only space for safety, empathy, trust, comfort, a focus on women’s needs, the expertise of female staff often themselves survivors. They tell us they feel more confident and find them less intimidating. Women-only spaces offer not only a space away from the specific man that women are escaping or who has violated them but away from men in general; away from men’s control and demands for attention; away from men taking physical and mental space; away from the male gaze and men’s constant appraisal of women; away from men’s expectations to be cared for and, just as importantly, a space where women share in common experiences of abuse despite how these differ and despite all the other differences between us. A space with others who understand, to whom you don’t have to explain why you didn’t leave earlier and who know how easy it is to feel guilty or stupid because you didn’t.

We know that at least 80% of males who hold a gender recognition certificate retain their penis, but anyway, we don’t need to know what’s in their pants to know they are a man. Women experiencing trauma after violence and abuse will, like most of us – almost always instantly read someone who might be the most kind and gentle trans identified male in the world – as male; and they may experience debilitating terror immediately and involuntarily, they will modify their behaviour, their actions and expectations in countless ways, many that they are not consciously aware off. They need and deserve a break, don’t they?

Since I’ve spoken out to defend women-only services, I’ve lost count of the number of victim-survivors of men’s violence who have told me how important a women only service was to them. They’re often upset and emotional when they start to talk about this.

That any woman working in, but most of all those in leadership positions which are connected to women’s welfare, are prepared to sit on the fence about the importance of women-only spaces for victim survivors of men’s violence, and whether men can magically become women, makes me want to both rage – and weep. You cannot opt of this. You cannot sit back. You cannot, especially if you are happy to accept the salary and other perks of a leadership position claim to ‘have an opinion on this’ but in the next breath say it ‘isn’t safe for me to speak out’. None of women’s political gains were achieved by well-paid women who played safe and put themselves first rather than women as a class. How dare any woman take a leadership position and leave it to others, many of them victim-survivors, to do this? How dare they claim to care about women’s safety and look away, pretending that there is nothing to see here? Please don’t look away.

 This not about hate. It’s not about bigotry. It is not anti-trans.  It’s about women and children who have been subjected to men’s violence.  Can we please just sometimes – sometime like now – put them first?

Comparing UK homicide perpetration and suspect rates for male, female and trans people April 2007 – March 2018

 

  1. Women[i]

Total number of female homicide victims aged 16 years and over = 1,816

Total number of female homicide suspects = 445

There are 75% fewer female homicide suspects than there are victims.

 

  1. Men*[ii]

Total number of male homicide victims aged 16 years and over = 4,288

Total number of male homicide suspects = 4,696

There are 10% more male homicide suspects than there are victims.

 

  1. Trans people (all male)[iii]

Total number of male homicide victims aged 16 years and over = 8

Total number of male homicide suspects = 12

There are 50% more trans-identified male homicide suspects than there are victims.

 

Updated 21 November 2019 to include deaths in 2019

Trans people (all male)[iii]

Total number of male homicide victims aged 16 years and over = 8

Total number of male homicide suspects = 13

There are 62.5% more trans-identified male homicide suspects than there are victims.

 

N.B. As far as I know, the ONS don’t state whether or not they include data from trans perpetrators and suspects by their sex or (assumed) trans gender identity, therefore trans victims and murders are also included in the data for women and/or men.

[i] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/datasets/appendixtableshomicideinenglandandwales

[ii] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/datasets/appendixtableshomicideinenglandandwales

[iii] http://transcrimeuk.com/2017/11/16/trans-homicides-in-the-uk-a-closer-look-at-the-numbers/

 

Counting Dead Women – and counting people who identify as transgender

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

The Sexualisation of Children and Sex Trade in Children Is a Massive Global Harm and Men Don’t like Women to Say it

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”

Bergorf tweet

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.

A letter to my 40-year-old self

(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.