I am hosting this heartbreaking piece by Pauline Tio. Karen
Georgina Kathleen Drinkwater (fondly as Georgy to Relatives & Family friends)
This is my (Pauline Tio’s) first public statement since the death of my only child & daughter, Georgina Drinkwater (aged 30) and her unborn son on 23 February 2014. Georgy was my beautiful daughter, the only love of my life. The loss of Georgina has been and continues to be totally devastating for family both in the UK & abroad. Her life was extinguished by a manipulative, abusive bully and coward. Today I want to set the record straight. This statement is her voice through me.
We know that for 18 months, Georgina suffered trauma, pain, mental, emotional, physical and financial abuse at the hands of her 2nd child’s father. To compound our loss and grief, immediately after her passing, certain individuals linked to the person responsible for her death fraudulently introduced themselves to the authorities as Georgina’s sister & circulated misinformation. The choice of babysitter on the night of her tragic death was not chosen by Georgina, but by the father of her second child. Contrary to media reports, she was not Georgina’s best friend. In last 12 months of her life, she was purposely isolated and surrounded by him and his friends. Only her trusted friends were introduced to her relatives/maternal family circle and they were at the funeral. The Authorities failed to check any of this with us, her mother & family to corroborate this misinformation & misrepresentation. As her mother, I know Georgina would have been appalled by the total lack of respect and decency, towards her grieving family & close friends who have (and are still) trying to mourn and come to terms with the pain and distress caused by her tragic death.
The Police & Social Services have failed in their dealings with my daughter especially during the homicide investigation into her death. They made a series of unfounded assumptions and judgements because they failed to understand the dynamics of domestic abuse and the different strategies used by perpetrators to control, manipulate and inflict violence on women, in this case it was my daughter. Despite a history of incidents involving physical, verbal and emotional abuse which were known to the Police and Social Services – there was a failure to conduct a full risk assessment of Georgy’s vulnerability as a young pregnant mother – as a victim of violence.
12 months’ prior her death, I told close friends that he is going to end up killing her as his power & control had increased and there was an escalation in the frequency in which he inflicted his rage and abuse on my daughter. For the first time in her life, as a consequence of this 18-month relationship, we saw Georgina change dramatically. She was ashamed, embarrassed, and fearful of his verbal abuse and his constant putting her down robbed of her self confidence & self esteem. Georgina didn’t want to live with the violence anymore. Prior to her death, Georgina told me that she was attempting to make plans to move back to West Hampstead where her family and friends who grew up with her are located, and to get away from him. Unfortunately, she never made it. It was too late. Georgina underestimated the danger to her life and the escalation & severity of his cruelty & abuse upon her.
I made a vow to my daughter that I will have it on true record in respect to her suffering of abuse perpetrated upon her by the man, who has since walked away from being held accountable for her death. Yet, the Case Investigation Officer failed to have a one to one conversation with us about Georgina as a person, a daughter, a mother and to get an insight about Georgina’s life. As the investigation progressed, we have witnessed a catalogue of errors including breach of confidentiality, lack of professionalism, withholding of information despite continuous requests, speaking to wrong witnesses, pages missing from witness statements, delaying & obstructive tactics used to prevent her family from disclosures especially the Homicide Investigation Report. Despite his admission of holding her in the flat against her will, he is not being charged with false imprisonment. How can we call this an investigation when her family and close friends who truly knew and loved her for 30 years were never spoken to? The criminal justice system has failed her miserably before and after her death allowing the person responsible for her death to walk free without being held accountable, not because he is innocent but because CPS considered that there is insufficient evidence to proceed.
We want to know from Met Police the reasons: are their actions to cover for the mishandling of the murder investigation or to protect the man responsible or both? Whilst it will never change the fact that he inflicted violence, mental & emotional abuse on her that finally led to her death. I made a vow to my daughter that I will have the truth on record about the violence she suffered by the man, who has since walked away from being held accountable for her death.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the nurse & 2 friends travelling in a taxi that night who stopped to help, the 2 taxi-drivers, London Ambulance Service, Air Ambulance and the 2 neighbours who rushed from the building to try and save my daughter and her unborn son. I would like to thank all my relatives (in UK & abroad), extended families, all close family friends & health professionals for their amazing support, help, empathy, patience, love and kindness in caring & looking after me since 23 February 2014.
I would want to give final appreciation and gratitude towards my solicitor, Bharine Kalsi and the Barrister Jake Taylor who came to my aid in my hour of need to try and seek the truth about the circumstances surrounding my daughter’s death. Thank you for your incredible help, guidance and advocacy.
Georgina was a beautiful, intelligent, articulate, funny, kind, independent, loving daughter, mother, niece, cousin, friend and woman. She is greatly missed by her loved ones. For myself, her mother I think of her each second of each day with each breath I take. Georgy was the love of my life and always will be.
January – April 2016: 43 UK women killed by men, or where a man is the primary suspect. 43 women in 121 days is one woman dead every 2.8 days.
- 7 January 2016: Katrina O’Hara, 44, was stabbed to death. Her ex-partner, Stuart Thomas, was charged with her murder.
- 13 January 2016: Georgina Symonds, 25, was strangled with a rope/ligature. Peter Morgan, 53, was charged with her murder.
- 23 January 2016: Lisa Lyttle, 49, was strangled to death with a mobile phone charger. Her husband, Warren Lyttle, 50, has been charged with her murder.
- 29 January 2016: Andrea Lewis, 51, was found dead. Rhys Hobbs 43, has been charged with her murder.
- 30 January 2016: India Chipchase, 20, was found dead after having been declared missing. Edward Tenniswood, 51, was charged with her murder.
- 31 January 2016: Guida Rufino, 38, was found dead with neck injuries. Her partner Anthony Roberts, is suspected of killing her before killing himself.
- 31 January 2016: Elidona Demiraj, 25, was stabbed/slashed in the throat. Arben Rexha, 31, has been charged with her murder.
- 2 February 2016: Geraldine Newman, 51, was killed by head injuries, her two children, Shannon, 12, and Shane, 6, were also stabbed to death. Her husband, and the father of the two children Paul Newman, 42, killed himself after killing his family.
- 4 February 2016: Caroline Andrews, 52, was strangled to death. Her husband, Stuart Andrews, 54, has been charged with her murder.
- 6 February 20146: Sheila Jefferson, 73, and her husband Dennis, Jefferson, were killed due to head and neck injuries before their home was set on fire. Norman Williams, 70, who was Sheila Jefferson’s brother-in-law, was suspected of killing them and died of injuries sustained in the fire.
- 12 February 2016: Leanne Wall, 36, was head-butted them strangled. Her (ex) partner, William Mack, 39, has been charged with her murder.
- 12 February 2016: Jessica McGraa, 37, was found dead. Bala Chinda, 25, was charged with her murder.
- 13 February 2016: Maria Byrne, 35, was found dead. Her husband, Darren Byrne, has been charged with her murder.
- 21 February 2016: Lisa Reynolds, 31, was killed by multiple stab wounds. Her partner, Barry Knapper, 31, has been charged with her murder.
- 22 February 2016: Natasha Bradbury, 28, was found dead. Luke Jones, 33, has been charged with her murder.
- 26 February 2016: Julie Hill, 51, was found dead alongside her mother, Rose Hill, 75. Christopher Whelan, 20, has been charged with their murders.
- 26 February 2016: Rose Hill, 75, was found dead alongside her daughter, Julie Hill, 51. Christopher Whelan, 20, has been charged with their murders.
- 26 February 2016: Christine James, 65, was last seen alive. She was found dead in her home on 2 March. Kris Wade, 36, has been charged with her murder.
- 29 February 2016: Julie Archer, 49, died a number of days after being doused with petrol and set alight. Her brother, Stephen Archer, 50, has been charged with her murder.
- 2 March 2016: Dawn Green, 69, was found dead along with her husband Malcolm Green, 70. Police said they were treating her death as suspicious but were not looking for anyone else in relation to the deaths.
- 3 March 2016: Gemma Stevens, 32, was found dead in a house fire in the early hours of the morning. Gary Tyson, 35, has been charged with her murder, arson and attempted wounding. He had also been accused of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to her on February 26.
- 11 March 2016: Lyndsay Smith, 42, was stabbed to death. Gavin Wilson, 41, of the same address, was charged with her murder.
- 14 March 2016: Robyn Mercer, 50, was found dead outside her home. Her head had been beaten so severely the police who found her ‘thought she had been shot’.
- 19 March 2016: Paige Doherty, 15, was killed through stab wounds to her neck. John Leathem, 31, has been charged with her murder.
- 21 March 2015: Carrie Ann Izzard, 47, was stabbed to death. She had split up with her boyfriend, Gerry Palmer, 50, only days before. He has been charged with her murder.
- 23 March 2016: Lynne Freeman, 46, was stabbed to death. Her partner Alan Bennett, 34, has been charged with her murder and that of his ex-partner Jodie Betteridge, 30.
- 23 March 2016: Jodie Betteridge, 30, was stabbed to death. Her ex-partner Alan Bennett, 34, has been charged with her murder and that of his partner, Lynne Freeman, 46.
- 23 March 2016: Joanna Trojniak, 29, was stabbed in the chest. Her partner, Pawel Sroka, 33, has been charged with her murder.
- 24 March 2016: Amina Begum, 47, was found outside her home with multiple stab wounds. Her son, Javid Ahmed, has been charged with her murder.
- 29 March 2016: Natasha Sadler, 40, was stabbed. Foster Christian, 53, has been charged with her murder and that of Simon Gorecki, 47, as well as two counts of GBH.
- 30 March – 3 April 2016: Laura Marshall, 31, was found dead on 4th Her partner, Gary O’Dowd had a long history of subjecting her to abuse and had threatened to kill her. He is currently on bail.
- 31 March 2016: Elizabeth MacKay, 60, was killed in what has been described by police as a “sustained and brutal assault”. Michael Taylor, 70, has been charged with her murder.
- 2 April 2016: Marie Johnston, 44, was found dead. Matthew Dean, 34, has been charged with wounding with intent and sexual assault.
- 2 April 2016: Norma Bell, 79, was found dead after a fire at her home, she had been killed before the fire started. Gareth Dack, 32, has been charged with her murder.
- 10 April 2016: Tracy Cockrell, 51, who had moved to a new area was found dead alongside Nigel McGrath. Police said that they were treating Tracy’s death as murder and were not looking for anyone else.
- 12 April 2016: Leigh-Ann Mahachi, 22, was killed with multiple stab wounds. Tapiwa Furusa, 37, has been charged with her murder.
- 13 April 2016: Jean Ryan, 67, was stabbed to death. Her husband, Shaun Ryan, 61, has been charged with her murder.
- 17 April 2016: Coleen Westlake, 48, died of blunt force trauma and strangulation. Craig Bird, 31, has been charged with her murder.
- 18 April 2016: Nasreen Khan, 39, was killed by multiple stab wounds. Imran Khan, 39, has been charged with her murder.
- 24 April 2016: Laraine Rayner, 53, was killed by a stab wound to the neck. Steven Stocks, 43, has been charged with her murder.
- 24 April 24: Faye Daniels, 30, was killed by multiple stab wounds. Phillip Barlow, 36, was charged with her murder.
- 26 April 2016: Xin Xin Liu, 39, was stabbed to death. Her husband Robert Kerr, 38, has been charged with her murder.
- 28 April 2016: Louise O’Brien, 36, was found dead and wrapped up in a carpet after having been strangled between 24 and 28 April. Her partner, David Anderson, 41, has been charged with her murder.
- 1 May 2016: Natalie Hemming, 31, was last seen. Her family reported her missing on 3 May. Her husband Paul Hemming, 42, was arrested on 4 May and later charged with her murder.
- 3 May 2016: Iris Owens, 75, was found dead. Her son, Robert Owens, 47, has been charged with her murder.
- 7 May 2016: Khabi Abrey, 30, was killed as a result of a fire in the flats where she liked. Lillo Toisi, 47, has been charged with her murder, plus arson with intent to endanger life, and arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.
- 8 May 2016: Anne-Marie Nield, 44, was found dead with multiple injuries. Richard Howarth, 41, has been charged with her murder.
Other femicide counts:
Please contact me if you’re aware of women in other counties who are commemorating women killed by men.
October 30th, ten weeks after the death of its Chief Executive, Denise Marshall, Eaves closed down. In just a few weeks, the women’s sector has suffered a double loss, of Denise herself and then of Eaves, the organisation she shaped and led. 38 years of expertise in delivering services for women by women is simply gone.
I worked at Eaves from 2004 to 2009 before I became the Chief Executive of nia. Denise, like me, was a proudly working class feminist Chief Executive. Eaves, like nia, was a service provider with a political vision, supporting women to escape from and deal with the results of men’s violence whilst committed to policy and structural change for women. Eaves and nia were two of the few remaining women’s charities that were unashamedly feminist and unafraid to say it: feminist, secular and abolitionist. We recognise that men’s violence against women and girls is a cause and consequence of inequality between women and men and that religion, the law and the sexual exploitation and objectification of women reflect and reinforce sex inequality and contribute to a conducive context for men’s violence.
Feminist based services recognise that the ‘them and us’ between women who use the services and women who work and volunteer can be arbitrary and being a worker, volunteer or board member in a women’s organisation and victim-survivor of men’s violence are not mutually exclusive. Survivors of men’s violence against women and girls are present at all levels of nia, board members and staff, volunteers and senior management. Of course professional standards and boundaries have to be maintained but we’re in this together. This makes a difference, we don’t see victim-survivors as other. This means that we’re better able to avoid the language and assumptions that pathologise women’s understandable reactions to men’s violence. We don’t diminish the women we work with, we don’t infantilise, we don’t blame. It’s not ‘those women’ or ‘those communities’, it is ‘us’ and it is ‘we’.
Austerity measures have hit women and the women’s sector hard. The cuts are a tool of an ideological agenda with the gap between who ‘Politics’ are done by and for and who ‘Politics’ are done to, becoming wider; and where conservative with a lower case as well as an upper case C is disguised as progressive. Eaves and nia both lost services that had been grown and created by women survivors and activists through the creation of contracts and the spread of competitive tendering to larger organisations with multi-million pound turnovers who are not specialists in providing services to women survivors of male violence and are not interested in the bigger picture of challenging inequality between women and men.
The lack of recognition of the value of the specialist independent women’s sector reflects the lack of value of women. Victim Support, The Salvation Army and Hestia have been winning contracts for services for women (albeit increasingly with a gender neutral clause) through bidding low and offering commissioner rather than need and experience led responses and devoid of a feminist framework; all have male CEOs, only one has a female Chair of Trustees. Generic services led by men can do the job just as well, or so some commissioners and policy makers believe. Independent research tells a different story. This week, the same week that Eaves closed its doors, a study by the University of Suffolk showed that survivors of childhood sexual abuse felt most believed by Independent Sexual Violence Advocates and rated the services provided by independent specialist organisations – women run organisations – highest. Victim-survivors know when you’re in it for the contract, not for them.
Feminist informed practice looks beyond the obvious and at the bigger picture. Feminist informed practice considers unintended consequences, looking at how what we do in the here and now relates to the structural position of women. Those of us who provide feminist informed services ask ourselves whether our actions reinforce women’s assigned sex roles or challenge them? Whether what we do diminishes women and whether women who are disadvantaged by socio-economic, racial and other inequalities are excluded or further disadvantaged. A couple of weeks ago, a male CEO of a ‘domestic abuse charity’ proudly announced that the organisation where he worked considered the employment of men working in women’s services a good thing, because they act as positive role models. He went on the say that men don’t do any of the supporting roles in the organisation and that the two men that the organisation employs are himself, the CEO and a maintenance worker. The boss and the ‘handyman’ are men, those caring and supporting are women. Great. As a feminist, I don’t consider those role models; I call them sex role stereotypes.
At nia, resources are scarce, budgets barely balance, services are running at capacity, though often beyond and with waiting lists; staff are stretched and much of our funding for next year is unconfirmed.Last year, we provided face-to-face support to 1,060 women and girls and delivered 1,864 hours of counselling support, plus responded to 2,145 contacts to the East London Rape Crisis Information and Support Line and delivered training to 277 professionals. Eaves will not be the last women’s organisation to fall. I remember the scene in Planet of the Apes, the 1986 version, when Astronaut George Taylor sees the Statue of Liberty in the sand and realises he has gone in to the future. I don’t want future generations of women to have to rebuild the women’s sector, but I’d love it if they didn’t have to because because men’s violence against women, girls and children had ended.
The sadness and loss I feel at the demise of Eaves feels like a cruel aftershock of the believing disbelief I felt on 21st August, the day Denise died. We will miss our sisters at Eaves. The fight to end men’s violence against women and support women who have suffered men’s violence continues. It will continue as long as men’s violence against women and girls continues; in our work – paid and unpaid – and our activism, wherever we are, especially when women who have experienced men’s violence say that we’re the ones who best meet their needs.
(Image: Top, L to R: Mathew Cherrington, Mateusz Kosecki, Michael Wenham.
Bottom L to R: Robert Fraser, Steven Mathieson, Nicholae Patraucean)
Prostitution is not safe for women. Women who sell sex face regular physical and sexual violence. More than half of women involved in prostitution in the UK have been raped and/or sexually assaulted – the vast majority of these assaults committed by sex buyers (Hester & Westmarland, 2004). Last year, 2014, six women who sell sex were murdered in the UK: Maria Duque-Tunjano, 48; Karolina Nowikiewicz, 25; Rivka Holden, 55; Yvette Hallsworth, 36; Lidia Pascale, 26 and Luciana Maurer, 23. They were all killed by johns, that is by men who buy sex.
Prostitution is often framed in the context of women’s choices, those of us who oppose prostitution accused of denying women’s agency, their capacity to choose and their right to do so. But a choice based on necessity, on a lack of viable alternatives isn’t really a choice. Five of the six women above were not born in the UK, coming from Colombia, Poland, Israel and two from Romania. The only UK born woman had a problem with substance use. Poor women, migrant women and women with problematic substance use are disproportionately represented amongst women who sell sex. And whilst some men sell sex, women do so disproportionately. Men are also overwhelmingly, regardless of the sex of the seller, the buyers.
Mathew Cherrington had been exercising his consumer choices. The 26-year-old man’s phone records showed he had contacted several women who sold sex before arranging for 26-year-old Lidia Pascale to visit his flat. She suffered at least 11 blows to her head and had injuries on her hands, where she’d put them on her head trying to defend herself. After killing her, Cherrington put Lidia in a black bin bag and into a bin. The final insult, the bin, the destination of unwanted, broken, expended consumables, rubbish.
Mateusz Kosecki chose Yvette Hallsworth because she was “slightly built.” At 18 he was already a predator who preyed on women in prostitution. He had attacked at least three women who sold sex before he killed Yvette Hallsworth, luring her into a secluded alley before stabbing her 18 times using a knife that he had taken out with him. A judge described him has having a ‘fascination, if not an obsession” with prostituted women. His attack on Yvette was described as cruel and savage.
Habitual sex-buyer and frequent consumer of pornography Michael Wenham had spent £15,000 on trying to enlarge his penis but instead lost two inches. He had been married eight years and had three children. He phoned in sick to work and bought a Stanley knife, gloves and plastic sacks. He contacted Karolina Nowikiewicz after the first woman he called wasn’t available. After asking Karolina to undress and get on all fours, he attacked her from behind, slashing her throat, cutting through her major arteries and spinal cord and almost decapitating her. In court, the attack was described as “premeditated, planned and clinically executed.” Karolina was a student, selling sex to fund her studies.
40-year-old ex-banker Robert Fraser was deemed an “ongoing and very real danger to women” by Judge John Bevan. Diagnosed as suffering from paranoid-schizophrenia he is said to have believed that god represented men and the devil represented women. He attacked a 27-year-old prostituted woman in January last year, convincing her that he was going to kill her, shoving her underwear in to her mouth before twisting her head as if he was going to break her neck. 10 days later he bludgeoned Maria Durque-Tunjano to death, she was killed by blunt force trauma to the head. Colombian born British national Maria had been financially supporting her family in Colombia through prostitution. She was still wearing a black corset and high-heeled shoes when her body was found.
Father of two, Steven Mathieson, was in debt due to the extent of his use of phone sex lines. His partner, who knew of neither the phone sex or the debt, was out for the evening and he made arrangements for three women to come to his home. Luciana Maurer was the first to arrive. With his four-year-old son asleep in the house he stabbed her 44 times and cut her throat in an upstairs bedroom. When the other women arrived, he took them in to the room where they immediately saw her dead on the bed. He forced them to strip and to dance for him and raped them both. The naked women were able to escape when Mathieson thought he heard his partner returning. Mathieson dialled 999 and said “I’ve been high on drugs and killed a prostitute.” According to his legal advocate, before that evening, Mathieson had been of “impeccable character.”
Nicolae Patraucean, 21, like Michael Wenham, chose to use a Stanley knife to slit the throat of and dismember Rivka Holden after strangling her following his celebrations at having obtained a national insurance number. Patrucean’s attitude to women in prostitution was illustrated in his statement to a friend “I killed a person … not a person, a whore.”
All women should be safe from men’s violence. With the exception of those whose misogyny infused denial runs so deep that their immediate reaction to that statement is anything on the continuum of ‘what about the men’ responses, there are few who would disagree. Similarly, I don’t know any feminist with an opinion on prostitution that believes women who sell sex should face or fear violence. If abolitionists, harm-reducers and free-choice free-market celebrants of prostitution agree on one thing, surely it is this.
Having a market of women – whether we are selling sex or whether our modified and culturally idealised images are used to adorn adverts of other products – commodifies women. It makes us into objects. As objects we become ‘less than’, less than fully human, not equal. Our value is set by our worth as products on the scale of marketability. This affects all women, whether or not we are those for sale or those used to boost sales. It’s no coincidence that we talk about purchasing power. Regulating the sale of sex doesn’t empower women, it further endorses men’s power over the women by giving them consumer status, rights and choices. Women, on the other hand, become commodities, interchangeable and disposable.
We need to change men’s attitudes to women, we need to eradicate the misogyny and entitlement that fuels men’s violence against women. Inequality between women and men is a cause and a consequence of men’s violence against women. We simply cannot achieve equality between the sexes, let alone the liberation of women from men’s oppression, whilst one sex is for sale, the consumable, and one sex is the buyer, the consumer. Women’s rights to safety must always be greater than men’s rights as consumers.
Six men: A Nick, a Mick, a Steve, a Bob and two Matts. All Johns. Six women: Maria, Karolina, Rivka, Yvette, Lidia and Luciana. All dead. Women should not be for sale.
The bodies of Lisa Anthony, 47 and her daughter Ava Anthony, 14 were found in their home in Surrey home, the day after a man believed to be the girl’s father was found dead in France. It is thought he died after them, the police have said that they are not looking for anyone else.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Preston has said:
“We are in the very early stages of the investigation but we do not believe there to be any threat to the wider community. This is thought to be an isolated incident. We are not currently looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.”
Not only is Lisa Anthony likely to be at least the 60th UK woman killed by a man or men this year, she the fifth to be killed along with her daughter:
- Bernadette Fox, 57, was asphyxiated and her daughter Sarah Fox, 27, was stabbed on 16 April. Bernadette’s son, Sarah’s brother, Peter Fox, has been detained under the Mental Health Act in relation to their deaths.
- Shighi Kotuvala/Rethishkumar, 35, was found strangled with her twin daughters Niya and Naya. Her husband, their father, Pullarkattil Rethishkumar, 44, is believed to have killed them before killing himself.
- Jan Jordon, 48, her partner and her six-year-old daughter Derin, were found stabbed to death on 23 May. Jan’s son Jed Allen is thought to have killed them all before killing himself.
- Amy Smith, 17, her baby daughter Ruby-Grace and friend Edward Greeen, 17, died in a fire. Peter Eyre, 44 and his sons Anthony, 21 and Simon, 24 have been charged with murder.
I am sick of hearing that there is no threat to the wider community. At least 60 UK women have been killed by men this year. I am sick of hearing about isolated incidents. 60 women dead at the hands of men in 6 months is a pattern, not an isolated incident and women are my community, don’t tell me that we are not at risk.
The UK’s lack of “a consistent and coherent approach to tackling violence against women” has been criticised in an official report by the UN special rapporteur, Rashida Manjoo . In addition, last week Professor Sylvia Walby, UNESCO chair of gender research at Lancaster University, criticised official statistics for drastically under-representing the scale of violent crime against women.
Whilst the UN report commends the “excellent policy framework” created by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, in the Government’s Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls, it notes that “isolated pockets of good practice” are compromised by the “lack of a consistent and coherent human-rights based approach in the government’s response to violence against women and girls”.
Walby explained, at a meeting at the UK Statistics Agency, that the Crime Survey of England and Wales fails to account for nearly half the attacks on women as it caps the number of separate crimes that can be reported by a single respondent at five. She found that if the cap is removed violent crime against women by partners and acquaintances, rise by 70% and 100% respectively, in other words men’s violence against women is massively understated in official statistics. (I’ve also looked at the reality of sex differences in domestic violence before, here, and specifically in relation to fatal intimate partner violence here.)
The government doggedly hangs on to its ‘gender neutral’ definition of domestic violence: “any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to: psychological, physical, sexual, financial [and] emotional.” The definition treats ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ as the same thing, it erases sex differences and it obscures the differences between intimate partner violence and other forms of domestic/family violence (the latter also repeated in the UN report).
The UN report also expresses concern about the shift from gender specificity to gender neutrality in our definitions of intimate partner violence, domestic violence and sexual violence (also with regards to service provision) which it refers to as a regressive measure . The fear of naming the agent of violence, men, is one of the most significant failings of the government’s definition and has repercussions in national and local policy and ultimately in the lives – and deaths – of women. Of the 249 women, who according to government statistics were killed in partner/ex-partner over the last 3 years, 247 were killed by a man, one by a woman (in one case the primary suspect is listed as unknown). Of 57 men killed in partner/ex-partner homicides, 21 of them, over a third, were killed by a man. The numbers aren’t the only difference, when men kill women partners or ex-partners, this usually follows months or years of them abusing her, when women kill male partners or ex-partners, it is usually after months or years of having been abused by the man they have killed. The relationship between abuse of women and abused women killing men is such that the development of refuges has led to a greater decrease in men being killed by partners than women.
Yes, men can experience violence too and yes, men can experience violence perpetrated by women but most violence – whether against women or men is perpetrated by men; and when we talk about intimate-partner violence and sexual violence, it is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men upon women and girls Intimate partner violence and wider domestic violence certainly do not occur “regardless of gender”.
Coercive control has been included in the government’s definition of domestic violence, but as Liz Kelly and Nicole Westmarland explain, intimate partner violence doesn’t just include coercive control, “it is a pattern of coercive control.” Men’s violence against their partners and ex-partners isn’t a series of isolated and unlinked incidents. This is true on a societal level as well as within individuals’ relationships. Not all men are violent and violent men are not violent all the time; but all women are affected by men’s violence and women who are in relationships with violent men are affected even when they’re not being violent. Inequality between women and men is a cause and consequence of men’s violence against women. Men’s violence against women isn’t just a problem in some relationships, it is a social problem.
An international study of the issues that relate to the different rates of intimate partner violence in 44 different countries and including 481,205 women found that the most significant factors are those which have been long identified by feminists: socially constructed gender-related norms that normalise men’s violence against and control of women partners and inequality between women and men. Last year Britain fell to 26th place on the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index – lower than most of the rest of Europe. It was the UK’s lowest overall score since 2008.
Until we understand the differences and overlaps between intimate partner violence, domestic and sexual violence and the huge sex differences therein, until the majority of us openly decry men’s rights activists who try to deny reality, we will not be taking one of the most fundamental steps necessary to solving any problem: namely defining the nature of that problem. If the government is serious about ending men’s violence against women it needs to look at the causes: sex inequality, the objectification of women and socially constructed gender roles that create toxic norms of masculinity and femininity.
Isn’t it time for us to get over the reluctance to actually name and condemn men’s violence? Isn’t it time that we worked with the causes of men’s violence and not just the results? Isn’t it time that we listened to feminists? Because feminists have been saying this for decades.