Women who are killed are most likely to have been killed by a man, men who are killed are most likely to have been killed by a man. We know that women who are killed are most likely to have been killed by someone they know, government statistics suggest 78%, of these most are killed by a partner or former partner, government statistics suggest 47%. Most women killed are killed by men. The government declines to share the statistic for this, instead blurring the sex of killers by using neutral relationship terms like parent, associate, child, indeed partner or ex-partner to identify killers by their relationship to the victim. Men, on the other hand, whilst still more likely to have been killed by someone they know, 57%, are much less likely to be killed by a partner or former partner, approximately 5% of men killed. Gay men are more likely to be killed by their male partner than lesbians killed by their female partner.
Most men killed are killed by men. Again, the government declines to share this statistic. We know that more men are killed each year than women, so we can’t simply compare the 47% of women killed being killed by a partner/ex-partner to the 5% of men killed for a simple numerical comparator, but in the 11 years between 2001/2 and 2011/12, 296 men, an average of 27 per year were killed by a partner or ex-partner and 1066 women were killed by a partner or ex-partner, an average of 97 per year. In the same period, in total, 6.1% of people convicted of murder were women, meaning that 93.9% were men, those are the government’s figures, not mine. 31.8 of homicide victims were women, 68.2% were men.
We all know that Charles Saatchi grabbed Nigella Lawson by the throat last June but what about Janelle Duncan Bailey, 25; Myrna Kirby, 57; Glynis Solmaz, 65; Chantelle Barnsdate-Quean, 35; Mary Roberts, 50; Christine Baker, 52; Margaret Macati, 63; Georgia Williams, 17; Yvonne Walsh, 25; Marianne Stones, 58; Sabeen Thandi, 37; Shavani Kapoor, 34; Assia Newton, 44; Jade Watson, 22; and Poonam, 35, all of whom were strangled to death last year in the UK by men. How many of us know the names of these women? How many of us know the names of their killers?
On Saturday 5 April this year, it is alleged that Mayka Kukucova shot a British man Andrew Bush, in Spain. A google search of her name brings 5,100 results and 104 links to articles for the reader to ‘explore in depth’. On the same day, Aston Robinson murdered Kayleigh Palmer, it is alleged; a search of his name brings 3,420 results and 39 articles to ‘explore in depth’. Also on 5 April, it is alleged that Steven McCall murdered Senga Closs. Search his name and there are 3,700 results but the first three links are to completely different issues, different McCalls, before the murder of Senga Closs appears with 5 links to pieces for the reader to ‘explore in depth’. Since then Dudley Boakes and Mateusz Kosecki have been charged with the murders of Sandra Boakes and Yvette Hallsworth on 6th April; and Dempsey Nibbs with the murder of Judith Nibbs on 11th April; none generating the interest afforded to Mayka Kukucova. In addition, Liam Naylor has been charged with the murder of Doreen Walker on 2 April and Paul McManus has been charged with the fatal stabbing of Isabelle Sanders on 9 April. Compare also the number of photos of Mayka Kukucova to those of the men accused of murder (only Aston Robinson currently appears in a photograph) and it is very clear that the killing of a British man by a woman, even overseas, is deemed much more newsworthy than that of any of the 7 British women suspected to have been killed by men in the UK so far this month.
The media coverage of the current trial for murder of Oscar Pistorius who has admitted killing Reeva Steenkamp last February, has sympathetically covered his sobbing, his vomiting and his love for Reeva; despite his more recent floundering under cross-examination by state prosecutor Gerrie Nel, today he found time to sign an autograph on his way out of court reading “Thank you for your love and kindness, Oscar”. It’s about him, about what happened to him not what he did. Last month, a report released by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) ‘Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse’ referred to 77 women killed by their partners or ex-partners between April 2012 and March 2013. The focus on domestic violence meant that the killings by men of 38 women were rendered irrelevant. The extent of fatal male violence against women simply erased.
We’re only two weeks in to April 2014 and already seven women in the UK have been killed, with a man charged with their murders. Just like any other month, these killings can rarely, even if somewhat anachronistically, be referred to as front-page news. Without the added ingredient of celebrity, male violence against women: rape, assault and murder are simply too commonplace.
Almost 94% of murderers in the UK are men. Even the most ardent disciples of ‘yeah but women kill men too’ cannot deny that this is a significant statistical difference. Government data and mainstream media conspire to feed the denial of both the extent to which men comprise the majority of murderers and the number of women killed by men compared to the number of men killed by women. It could almost make you feel sympathetic to those suggesting, demanding or instructing me to count dead men. Almost.
Yesterday, The Birmingham Mail published a hateful piece by Maureen Messent about the 77 women killed though domestic violence in the year April 2012-March 2013. Messent described the 77 women killed as their own worst enemies : “holy cows, never to be held accountable for staying with brutal men”. She shared her sympathy for West Midlands Police, imagining their “ frustration and disappointment, then, when the women they want to help fail to turn up as witnesses “because I love him really”.”
In the year in question, at least three of the 77 women killed by a partner or former partner lived in the area policed by the West Midlands force: Da In Lee, Natasha Trevis and Shaista Khatoon.
Da In Lee was a 22-year-old student studying International Relations and Sociology at Aston University. She met Daniel Jones in 2011 at a local church but had ended their relationship on 24 March 2012 though spent the night with him on 8 April. We only have Daniel Jones’ account of what happened the next day because Da In Lee is dead. According to Jones, during an argument, he ‘caused her to fall over’, (a phrase which neatly eradicates his responsibility), before climbing on top of her. By his own admission, she struggled and screamed so he put his left hand over her mouth before taking hold of her throat. He described how her face went purplish blue, he said he saw tears well up in her eyes and two tears rolling down her face. Yet he claimed he had not intended to cause her any harm and lost track of time and so didn’t know how long it was he was applying pressure to her throat. Accident-prone forgetful Daniel Jones had been cautioned for common assault on a previous girlfriend in 2010.
Natasha Trevis was 22. She had three children aged three, two and one with 28 year old Junior Saleem Oakes. Oakes was violent and controlling throughout their relationship. He had a history of domestic violence including a conviction at the age of 19, and was known to carry a knife. Oakes and Natasha were recently separated, she had not told him that she had recently terminated a pregnancy because she was afraid of what he might do. On 7 August, five days after a social worker let slip this information, Natasha had called a taxi to her mother’s home but Oakes had travelled with her to be dropped off elsewhere. In his statement, the taxi driver said he heard Natasha say to Oakes that they ‘didn’t need to talk about their relationship because they didn’t have one’. Natasha tried to escape but Oakes stabbed her 26 times. She had wounds to her head, face, neck, chest, back and legs, one stab wound to her brain was 10cm deep.
Shaista Khatoon, 33 and Shoukat Ali, 38 had been married 15 years and had five children. His behaviour had become controlling and violent, they had separated but his harassment and threats had continued. Shaista wanted a divorce. On 19 November, two days after receiving a divorce letter, Shoukat Ali broke in to the where Shaista lived with three of the children. As Shaista called the police, Ali cut her throat. The operator heard her screams. When the police arrived, they found her body in a pool of blood.
In addition, on May 8th, Lynda Jackson, 56, was found strangled to death at her home in Erdington. A 60-year-old man was found with injuries at the same address and taken to hospital where he was said to be in a critical condition. Police confirmed that they were not looking for anyone else. Lynda was a teaching assistant at Hodge Hill Sports and Enterprise College who was strangled to death. Marie McMahon, head teacher at Hodge Hill Sports and Enterprise College, said: “Lynda was a talented and well respected colleague. She was loved by staff and pupils alike and she will be sorely missed.”
Not all women killed by male violence are included in those killed by domestic violence. In addition to the women above, in the year in question a further five women in the West Midlands were killed though men’s violence against them. Janice Smithen, 46, was killed though blunt force trauma and Pauline Gillen, 69, was stabbed, both killed by their sons; Kaysley Smithen and Ian Woolley. Carole Mudie, 68, died after being mugged by Marvin Blake. Georgina Stuparu, 23, was stabbed by her friend’s boyfriend, Phillipe Burger. Christina Edkins,16, was stabbed by Phillip Simelane and Hayley Pointon was shot. Are they less responsible for their own deaths in Messent’s eyes because they hadn’t been in a relationship with their killer?
Daniel Jones, Junior Saleem Oakes and Shoukat Ali have all been found guilty of murdering the women who were trying to leave them: Da In Lee, Natasha Trevis and Shaista Khatoon. We do not hold these women accountable for their own murders, not because they are ‘holy cows’ but because the ones who are responsible for male violence against women are the violent men themselves. Men who kill women are responsible for their actions whether the woman they killed was in the process of taking court action, of leaving, had already left or was still in a relationship with them.
Messent describes West Midlands Police as taking “whatever steps necessary to help the vulnerable. Officers burn the midnight oil, never preach, are prepared to listen for hours at a time”. Is this the same West Midlands police who had to apologise to 19-year-old Alex Faragher who, when she reported domestic violence was called a “fucking slag” and a “bitch” by two officers who allegedly inadvertently recorded the message?
The killing does not stop. Since April 2013, Salma Parveen, Yvonne Walsh, Lilima Aktar, Varkha Rami, Jacqueline Oakes, Kanwal Azam, Jane McRae, Amandeep Kaur Hoti and Tracey Snook-Kite have been murdered though male violence or a man has been found responsible for or charged with causing their death. Nine more dead women. Holy Cows? Women who allowed “themselves to be used as punch bags” and “their own worst enemies”? No. Women who are victims of male violence. Women who were killed by men. Men who are solely and entirely responsible for their actions.