Holy Cow! Women killed by their partners or ex-partners are their own worst enemy says columnist

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

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 TrevisNatasha 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.

12 thoughts on “Holy Cow! Women killed by their partners or ex-partners are their own worst enemy says columnist

  1. I just read what she wrote and it was even worse! Extremely short, and pure biased opinion – not even attempting to put her comments into any kind of context – apart from ‘women are their own worst enemy’ or whatever that piece of nonsense was.

    Just appalling.

    • I see women like MM as just sexist, pure and simple. They blame women and children for the violence men do to them because its easier and safer to blame the victim than stand up to the bully. There is a strong streak of cowardice in these people … if she was on the Titanic she would have been the first one in the lifeboat and pushing everyone else out.

  2. MM dares to write an article about fatal domestic violence but does not educate herself on the basics of the dynamics within abusive relationships. Then she victim blames. Women like her test my feminism! But seriously, I know that she has been duped by patriarchal reductionist attitudes – I just find it so frustrating that she considers a totally biased and poorly researched piece to be suitable for publication.

  3. Can’t help but agree. Nobody is responsible for other people’s violence against them. Especially women.
    I don’t understand how people continue to spout the ‘but why did she stay with him?’ line. It’s been shown that the time an abusive man is most likely to escalate his violence to murder, is when his victim tries to leave. Leaving is a dangerous choice. I despair of people who can be so judgemental of those who’ve been abused.

  4. It’s really odd how many people seem to think leaving the relationship creates a magical forcefield around a woman, making it impossible for her former partner to be violent or threatening to her ever again.

  5. There seems to be almost no lengths to which people will not go to excuse and legitimise male violence against women.

    It is really very odd indeed, and the more I see of it the less I understand it.

  6. Shocking attitude but who is surprised? Men kill these women, they don’t get warning on their first date then stay around because their that dumb. These women have been charmed by often convincing men these women’s own families may well like them and their friends have been caught up in these men’s web of charm too. Then the abuse starts, they play on doubts, they put you down in public and take your cash and stop you sleeping, before you know it you don’t trust you let alone anyone else.

    If so many men are so crazy they murder there is something wrong with lots of men, we need to look at this. Lets start blaming these men and changing attitudes to love and women so this murder of women stops.

  7. It’s extremely sad and maddening that women such as Maureen Messent continue to espouse the arguments that men come up with to blame women for men’s violence. The last thing that is needed is to blame the victim. The focus should be on help for the women/children involved and punishment for the men who seem to know that their actions will not be taken seriously but treated just as a ‘domestic’.

    Yes, getting a woman pregnant is a common method of control. The woman is usually prevented from getting protection for herself and the conception is not necessarily achieved via a loving sexual act…

    It is nearly 10 years since I managed to get out of an abusive relationship and I have not had a relationship with a man since. Thankfully I found the Met police helpful and they took my situation seriously. In the end I moved myself 70 miles away from my abuser. To begin with the terrorising did not stop but at least I was able to close a front door against him and luckily he did not think it in his interests to force his way in. The local police were not so good and they seemed to see me as a vengeful ex denying an innocent man’s rights to see his kids rather than a woman trying to put boundaries in place for how he could behave.

    Women need to be supported as the physical/mental/emotional effects of abuse are overwhelming. The fear that is engendered in abusive relationships must not be underestimated. Judgments and opinion like this simply attempt to negate a man’s criminal responsibility.

    To anyone suffering in an abusive relationship the message needs to be clear: IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Once you find the strength and the opportunity please speak to someone you feel you can trust to help you. Whatever you decide to do, I will never judge you.


  8. How were they not held accountable? They were murdered FFS. All three of them had left their violent controlling partners too. Showing just how dangerous that is.

    Do you think it’s significant that two of the women had many children? One of them in a very short space of time. I mean in terms of a method of controlling women?

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