Writing women’s lived reality out of the narrative of their death

8 Christina Randall

Hull City Council has recently published a Domestic Homicide Review[i] (DHR) into the murder of Christina Spillane, also known as Christina Randell. The conclusion in the  Executive Summary of the full report stated ‘Nothing has come to light during the review that would suggest that [Christina Spillane’s] death could have been predicted or prevented.’

On 5th December 2013, Christina Spillane had phoned the police and in the course of describing threatening and aggressive behaviour from Deland Allman, her partner of over 20 years, she told them that he was going to kill her. The claim that nothing suggested her murder could have been predicted is not just wrong, it is doing one of the things that DHRs are supposed to avoid: writing the voice of the victim out of her own narrative. Christina had herself predicted that Allman was going to kill her and she told this to the police the first time there was any recorded contact between  her and them. Also, women are more likely to underestimate the risk they face from a violent partner than overestimate it.  Her fears should not have been ignored whilst she was still alive, let alone after she had been killed.

The conclusion of the executive summary of the DHR, contrary to several examples given in the body of the report, states ‘There is nothing to indicate there were any barriers to reporting and advice and information was given to [Christina]  regarding services but these were not taken up.’ This belies any understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and abuse. 1 in 4 women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes and almost 1 in 10 will suffer domestic violence in any given year. Most women will never make any sort of formal report, to the police or any other service, statutory or otherwise, but most of them would be able to explain why they haven’t, exactly because of the multitude of barriers to doing so: shame, feeling it’s your own fault, not wanting to admit there’s a problem, feeling knackered enough and demoralised by the abuse and not being able to face telling a stranger about it, feeling judged, feeling more afraid of the unknown future than the known present or past. These are just a few examples from a much longer list of possibilities. On one occasion that the police were called to respond to Allman’s violence against Christina, their adult child had told the police that their mother, Christina ‘was too scared to call the police.’ That the panel of people assembled for the domestic homicide review panel declined to identify this, or any other significant barriers to reporting in the report’s conclusion, is a shockingly bad omission.

Research published in 2012 by the Equality and Human Rights Commission showed that 95% of women using women’s services preferred to receive them from a women only-organisation.   Another report ‘Islands in the Stream’ by London Metropolitan University also stressed the importance of independent organisations. The domestic violence and abuse service in Hull is provided by Hull Domestic Abuse Partnership, a multi-agency response within the council’s community safety function. This is not an independent woman-only organisation. It is remiss that the DHR report does not consider whether this might be a barrier to reporting. Indeed it only reinforces the suggestion that too many statutory commissioners are happy to ignore what women tell us about the services they most value and furthermore, that independent women’s organisations are often undervalued and their importance side-lined.

For Christina there were additional problems: she had problematic substance use and a long history of involvement in prostitution. The review details that she had a criminal record including  ‘prostitute loitering and prostitute soliciting’ but does not consider even in passing that this may have affected her behaviour, choices, beliefs about herself or relationship with ‘the authorities’. By failing to look at this, the inclusion of this information in the review risks merely inviting judgment of her character, the expectation of which is itself a barrier to accessing support. Indeed a report by nia found that prostitution-specific criminal records have a profound and specific negative impact on women, massively influencing how they expect to be viewed by others. Additionally, involvement in prostitution itself is a homicide risk factor.  The Femicide Census found that of women who were involved in prostitution and killed  between 2009 and 2015, almost 20% had been killed by a current or former partner, suggesting prostitution must be recognised as not just a risk factor for or form of male violence, but also as a risk factor for intimate partner violence including homicide. There is no indication in the DHR that anyone on the review panel had an expertise in understanding the impacts of prostitution upon women and considered this a barrier.

On 1st February 2015, almost two years and two months after telling the police that she feared Allman would kill her, Christina Spillane was found dead. Allman had stabbed her three times and strangled her in an assault of such force that the blade had snapped. She was 51. Far from there being ‘Nothing [that had] come to light during the review that would suggest that [Christina Spillane’s] death could have been predicted or prevented.’ as concluded in the executive summary, there had been a number of indicators of serious risk: escalating violence, threats to kill, reports of strangulation, separation, expression of suicidal thoughts by Allman, and male entitlement/possessiveness indicated by Allman’s belief that Christina was ‘having an affair’. Christina had spoken to the police, her GP, her drugs support agency, a support provider for women offenders and A&E between calling the police in December 2013 and her murder on the eve of 1st February 2015. It is simply incorrect to state that support ‘was not taken up’. Another interpretation is that Christina Spillane was desperately afraid and made multiple disclosures as she sought to find a route to safety, was facing multiple barriers to accessing specialist services and was failed by those that may have been able to help.

Frank Mullane, CEO of AAFDA,  a charity set up to support families of victims of domestic homicide in memory of his sister and nephew who were murdered by their husband/father, says that the “victim’s perspective should permeate these reviews throughout”. The DHR in to the murder of Christina Spillane sorely failed to achieve this aim

No-one but the perpetrator, Deland Allman, bears responsibility for killing Christina. It is not the purpose of a DHR to redirect blame from violent killers (usually men) who make choices to end (usually women’s) lives. But if DHRs are to fulfil the functions of contributing to a better understanding and the prevention of domestic violence and abuse, they cannot be a hand-washing exercise. They need to ask big questions, there needs to be a robust challenge to victim blaming and they must endeavour to see things from a victim’s (usually woman’s) perspective. If we want them to be part of what makes a difference, we need to make sure that we hear what victims of violence tell us, rather than use them as a means of absolving us from taking responsibility for the differences that we might have been able to make.

 [i]  Since 2001, local authorities have been required to undertake and usually publish reports on Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) where the death of a person aged 16 or over has, or appears to have, resulted from violence, abuse or neglect by a relative, household member or someone they have been in an intimate relationship with. The purposes of the reviews, which should be chaired by an independent person with relevant expertise, include establishing and applying  what lessons are to be learned from the ways that agencies work to safeguard victims and also, to contribute to a better understanding of and the prevention of domestic violence and abuse.

 

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The Attack in Manchester was an Attack on Women and Girls

Manchester 22

We now know the names of the 22 people confirmed dead in the attack in Manchester, and we know the 17 of them were women and girls.  Whilst not to deny or denigrate the lives of the 5 men that were also taken, it is essential that we view the attack as an attack on women.

Daesh have claimed responsibility and so the attack is rightly framed in the context of religious extremism.  The patriarchal oppression of women by men is at the heart of this ideology,  and in that respect Daesh is not alone.  Inequality between women and men and men’s violence against women go hand-in-hand the world over.  It is estimated that across the globe  66,000 women and girls are killed violently every year .  Generally those countries with the highest homicide rates are those with the highest rates of fatal violence against women and girls; but other factors are at play too,  countries with higher levels of sex  inequality also have high rates of men’s violence against women and girls. The UK is no exception, this year, even before the attack in Manchester, at least 37 UK women had been killed by men.  Links between men who perpetrate violence against women  and terrorism are now being identified; and mass killers, including school shooters, are almost always male.

Gender is a hierarchy, the ideals of masculinity and femininity are critical tools in maintaining the oppression of women by men,  in the creation of men’s violence against women and the conditions that support and enable it. We cannot afford to fail to identify and name patriarchy as an ideology underpinning violence and we cannot afford to fail to name male violence against women in the Manchester attack.   If we want to end men’s violence against women and girls we will have to dismantle the structures that support inequality between women and men, without this almost any intervention that we might make will have little impact.

The prevent agenda, one of the 4 strands of the UK governments counter-terrorism strategy,  has been condemned as toxic and anti-Muslim, as reinforcing rather than healing mistrust, but cultural relativism is not the solution.   If we want to tackle terrorism, we need to understand and acknowledge that structural inequalities that create the conditions for violent hatred – be they grounded in patriarchy– or imperialism or  capitalism  – are critical and that solutions, if they are to have any impact, need to be equally ambitious.  We also need to make sure our definition of terrorism includes acts of violence perpetrated by those claiming to be motivated by the aims of ideologies held, or perceived to be held, by populations who are mainly white. Religion is one of the tools of ideology. We need to push for a secular state, that doesn’t have to be about the absence of religion from the lives of those who choose it, but it does mean the separation of religion and the state.   Of course if we are to learn from the mistakes of imperialism, this means that the West cannot impose secularism on the Global South.  But we can redouble our efforts to fight for universal Human Rights for all, and human rights fully encompass women’s rights. The right to life, the right to freedom from torture, the right to freedom from slavery: men’s violence against women and more broadly the oppression of women is an international human rights crisis.

Yes, now is the time for unity – and in that unity we should seek our connections to those killed and harmed in the name of violent and oppressive ideologies across the world.  We must be unified in our fight to identify, name and end all forms of men’s violence against women and girls and also to end hierarchies between women and girls.  Whether international terrorism or domestic terrorism, men’s violence against women and girls is used to control, disempower and degrade women and girls.  The attack in Manchester was an attack on women and girls, on our liberty, our safety, our lives.   The response to terrorism must always include the rights of women.

In memory of

Angelica Klis, 40

Georgina Callendar, 18

Saffie Roussos, 8

Kelly Brewster , 32

Olivia Campbell, 15

Alison Howe,45

Lisa Lees, 47

Jane Tweddle-Taylor, 51

Megan Hurley, 15

Nell Jones, 14

Michelle Kiss, 45

Sorrell Leczkowski, 14

Chloe Rutherford, 17

Eilidh Macleod, 14

Wendy Fawell, 50

Courtney Boyle, 19

Elaine McIver,43

And also,

Martyn Hett, 29

Marcin Klis, 42

John Atkinson, 28

Liam Curry, 19

Philip Tron, 32

2017

91 women

January – September 2017: At least 101 UK women killed by men, or where a man is the principal suspect. 101 women in 273 days is one woman dead every 2.7 days.

  1. 7 January 2017: Nicola Beck, 52, was found dead along with her husband Michael Beck, 62. Police have described their deaths as ‘domestic related murder and suicide.’
  2. 8 January 2017: Kerri McCauley, 32, was found dead. A post-mortem was inconclusive but Norfolk Police said there was evidence that Kerri was subjected to a severe blunt force assault. Her former partner, Joe Storey, 26, has been charged with her murder.
  3. 10 January 2017: Eulin Hastings, 74, was killed in a house fire. A 26-year-old man was arrested and bailed.
  4. 11 January 2017: Victoria Shorrock, 45, was found dead having suffered ‘a number of injuries’. Lee Grime, 35, had been charged with her murder but the charge was changed to assault when the cause of death could not be verified. Det Insp Tim McDermott said: “Even though we can’t be sure exactly what happened in the hours before she died, what is clear is Grime assaulted her, with her death following at some point afterwards. Victoria was a vulnerable woman who Grime took advantage of. He showed himself to be a dangerous and manipulative individual.” Grimes was jailed for 16 months.
  5. 16 January 2017: Leone Weeks, 16, was found stabbed to death on a footbath close to her home. 18-year-old Shea Heeley, has been charged with her murder.
  6. 16 January 2017: Kiran Daudia, 46, ‘s remains were found in a suitcase by a member of the public. Her 50-year-old ex-husband, Ashwin Daudia, has been charged with her murder.
  7. 18 January 2017: Kulwinder Kaur, 40, was killed by a stab wound to her neck. Her husband, Azad Singh, 46, has been charged with her murder.
  8. 19 January 2017: Anne Forneaux, 70, was found dead at home and is believed to have been killed by her husband, Edward Forneaux, 74, who is thought to have killed himself by driving in to a tree.
  9. 20 January 2017: Anita Downey, 51, is thought to have been stabbed to death. David Lymess, 51, has been charged with her murder.
  10. 28 January 2017: Chrissy Kendall, 46, was found dead with multipole stab wounds. Her husband James Neary, 46, has been charged with her murder.
  11. 30 January 2017: Gillian Zvomuya, 42, also known as Nyasha Kahari, dies from head injuries and also suffered injuries from a ‘bladed item’. Her husband Norbery Chikerema, 42, has been charged with her murder.
  12. 3 February 2017: Amandeep Kaur, 35, was found dead with significant injuries. Baldeep Singh, 38, has been charged with her murder.
  13. 6 February 2017: Tina Billingham, 54, was taken to a doctor’s surgery with stab wounds but later died in hospital. Her partner Ronald Cook, 54, has been charged with her murder.
  14. 11 February 2017: Hannah Dorans, 21, was found dead. Frazer Neil, 23, has been charged in relation to her death.
  15. 11 February 2017: Catherine Kelly, 71, was killed in a fire which was thought to have been started deliberately.
  16. 11 February 2017: Hang Yin Leung, 64, was killed when a group of men posing as cold callers entered and robbed her home.
  17. 13 February 2017: Karina Batista, 40, was found dead with multiple injuries to her upper body. Jaici Rocha, 36, has been charged with her murder.
  18. 15 February 2017: Humara Khan, 42, was found to have a serious head injury when police were called to her home. She later died in hospital. Her husband Jamal Khan, 52, has been charged with her murder.
  19. 19 February 2017: Hazel Wilson Briant, 27, was stabbed to death by her partner Olumide Orimoloye, 42, who also killed himself.
  20. 19 February 2017: Margaret Stenning, 79, was stabbed to death. Her husband, Ronald Stenning, who claimed she slit her own throat, has been charged with her murder.
  21. 22 February 2017: Avis Addison, 88, was found dead at home after police were called to the property. Her husband Douglas Addison, 88, has been charged with her murder.
  22. 25 February 2017: Beverly Hudson, 42, died in hospital 2 days after having been stabbed 20 times in the neck, chest and abdomen as well as her arms, hands and back by her partner Mark Minott, 41, who used a second knife after the first one broke.
  23. 26 February 2016: Julie McCash, 43, was stabbed to death at a vigil being held for her missing nephew. Robert Stratton, 42, has been charged with her murder.
  24. 26 February 2017: Sarah Pitkin, 58, is believed to have been stabbed to death by her husband Richard Pitkin, , 65, who then hanged himself.
  25. 28 February 2017: Lea Adri-Soejoko, 80, was found dead in an allotment lock-up store. She had been strangled. Rahim Mohammadi, 40, has been charged with her murder.
  26. In February 2015, Justene Reece, 46, killed herself by hanging following a period of sustained stalking and coercive control. In a landmark legal case, Nicolas Allen, who had formerly been Justene’s partner, admitted manslaughter.
  27. 8 March 2017: Anne-Marie James, 33, was stabbed to death by her brother Melvin James,36, who then killed himself. He also badly injured their mother.
  28. 13 March 2017: Sabrina Mullings, 38, was stabbed to death. Her partner Ivan Griffin, 23, has been charged with her murder.
  29. 22 March 2017: Aysha Frade, 43, was killed when Adrian Ajao/Elms, also known as Khalid Massod, drove a car in to pedestrians in a terrorist attack in London.
  30. 25 March 2017: Tracey Wilkinson, 50, and her son Pierce, 13, were stabbed to death by Aaron Bailey who was known to the family. Her husband was also badly hurt in the attack.
  31. 25 March 2017: Kanwal/Bernice Williams was last seen alive. Her body was found on 9th of April, two days after the discovery of the body of her husband Lawrence Williams, 50. He is thought to have killed himself.
  32. 6 April 2017: Andreea Christea, 31, died after falling in to the river Thames when Adrian Ajao/Elms, also known as Khalid Massod, drove a car in to pedestrians in a terrorist attack in London on 22 March.
  33. 9 April 2017: Vicki Hull, 31, was found strangled. Mark Mahoney, 31, has been charged with her murder.
  34. 14 April 2017: Hannah Bladon, 20, a student from Derby , was stabbed to death in Jerusalem by Jamil Tamimi, 57.
  35. 17 April 2017: Carolyn Hill, 51, died of a head injury. Skye Page, 37, has been charged with her murder.
  36. 19 April 2017: Karina Evemy, 19, died in hospital of injuries sustained on 13th Her boyfriend Dylan Harries, 21, had previously been charged with attempted murder.
  37. Between 16 April and May 2017: Megan Bills, 17, was killed. She was found decomposing and wrapped in cling film in May. Ashley Foster, 24, was initially charged with preventing a proper burial and later charged with her murder.
  38. 4 May 2017: Karolina Chwiluk, 20, died after being stabbed in an incident in which two other people were injured. Grzesiek Kosiec, 23, said to have been her boyfriend, has been chared with her murder and two counts of GBH.
  39. 7 May 2017: Tracy Kearns, 43, was last seen alive. Her body was found on 11 May.  She had been strangled. Her partner Anthony Bird has been charged with her murder.
  40. 15 May 2017: Concepta Leonard, 51, was stabbed to death by her ex-partner Peadar Phair, who and killed himself and tried to kill her son.
  41. Angelica Klis, 40
  42. Georgina Callendar, 18
  43. Kelly Brewster, 32
  44. Olivia Campbell, 10
  45. Alison Howe, 45
  46. Lisa Lees, 47
  47. Jane Tweddle-Taylor, 51
  48. Megan Hurley, 15
  49. Nell Jones, 14
  50. Michelle Kiss, 45
  51. Sorrell Leczkowski, 14
  52. Chloe Rutherford, 17
  53. Eilidh Macleod, 14
  54. Wendy Fawell, 50
  55. Courtney Boyle, 19
  56. Elaine McIver, 43

Saffie Roussos, 8*

  1. 23 May 2017: Gemma Leeming, 30, was found strangled. Craig O’Sullivan, 39, has been charged with her murder.
  2. 25 May 2017: Emma Day, 33, was stabbed to death. Her ex-partner, Mark Morris, 39, has been charged with her murder.
  3. 26 May 2017: Mohanna Abdhua, 20, also known as Montana, was shot dead in what appears to have been crossfire of a ‘gangland shooting’. Two men have been arrested and bailed.
  4. 27 May 2017: Marjorie Cawdrey and her husband Michael, both 83, were stabbed to death. A 40-year-ond man has been charged in relation to their murders.
  5. 28 May 2017: Sobhia Khan, 37 was found dead. Her husband Ataul Mustafa, 35, has been charged with her murder.
  6. 29 May 2017: Romina Kalachi, 32, was found stabbed to death in London.
  7. 30 May 2017: Arena Saeed, 30 and her two children Shadia, 6 and Rami, 4 were killed in Liverpool. Her husband (their father) Sami Salem, 30, has been charged in relation to their deaths.
  8. 2 June 2017: Alyson Watt, 52, was stabbed to death and her 16-year-old son was also attacked. Her former partner Gary Brown, 54, has been charged.
  9. Christine Archibald, 30
  10. Kirsty Boden, 28
  11. Sara Zelenak, 21
  12. 8 June 2017: Sarah Jeffrey, 48, was strangled. Her husband Christopher Jeffrey, 51, has been charged with her murder.
  13. 9 June 2017: Karen Young, 47, was found dead in Allan Doherty’s flat. He has been charged with culpable homicide.
  14. 10 June 2017: Corinne Hayes, 23, was found dead on 10th A 33-year-old man has been detained under the Mental Health Act in relation to her death.
  15. 13 June 2017: Jean Chapman, 81, was killed by blunt force trauma to the head. Her 71-year-old husband John Chapman, has been charged with murder.
  16. 12 June 2017: Janice Griffiths, 59, died in hospital 2 days after being subjected to a violent attack. A 22-year-old man has been held under the Mental Health Act in relation to her death.
  17. 14 June 2017: Joanne Rand, 47, dies after sustaining chemical burns on 3 June from a substance in a bottle that was kicked during ‘an altercation’. Xeneral Webster has been charged with attempted GBH.
  18. 17 June 2017: Dionne Clark, 27, was found dead. Dominic Wallis, 28, and Elizabeth Ellis, 19, have been charged in relation to her murder.
  19. 18 June 2017: Ellen Higginbottom, 18, was killed through multiple wounds to her neck. Mark Steven Buckley, 51, has been charged with her murder.
  20. 27 June 2017: Julie Parkin, 39, was stabbed to death. Adam Parkin, 35, has been charged with her murder.
  21. 29 June 2017: Molly McLaren, 23, was killed by her throat being slit. Her ex-boyfriend, Joshua Stimpson, 25, has been charged with her murder.
  22. 29 June 2017: Joanne Hemingway, 39, died in hospital after being seriously assaulted. Glenn Foster, 42, has been charged with her murder.
  23. 6 July 2017: Veronika Pugaciova, 33, was killed when she was hit by a vehicle as she left the van of Johnathon Allison, 54. He has been charged with breaking a restraining order.
  24. 9 July 2017: Vera Savage, 89, was stabbed to death. Police believe her son John Savage, 54, killed her and then himself.
  25. 19 July 2017: Celine Dookhran, 19, was kidnapped, raped, had her throat cut and her body was placed in a freezer. Majahid Arshid, 33, has been charged.
  26. 20 July 2017: Vanessa James, 24 was stabbed in the neck and abdomen. Tre Cameron, 21, has been charged with her murder.
  27. 21 July 2017: Florina Pastina, 36, was suffered head injuries as a result of being bludgeoned in the head with a hammer. Lucian Stinci, 34, has been charged with her murder.
  28. 21 July 2017: Olivia Kray, 19, was strangled. Her father, Richard Kray. 63 has been charged with her murder and the attempted murder of another woman.
  29. 29 July 2017: Farnaz Ali, 49, was killed in what has been described as a ‘sustained assault’ . Danny Williams, 26, has been charged with her murder.
  30. 31 July 2017: Elizabeth (Betty) Jordan, 53, was found seriously injured and died later in hospital. Her husband, Paul Jordan, 54, has been charged with her murder.
  31. 3 August 2017: Leanne Collopy, 25, was found in a burning house with her 2-year-old daughter. She died of stab wounds and burns. Saleem Said, 39, has been charged with her murder, the attempted murder of the two year old girl and arson with intent to endanger life
  32. 5 August 2017: Rikki Lander, 26, was found dead at home. Her husband Paul Lander was found hanged. Police said that ‘It’s clear a sustained attack had taken place towards Rikki.’
  33. 6 August 2017: Alex Stuart, 22, was found with facial injuries and had been stabbed. She died in hospital. Nicholas Rogers, 26, has been charged with her murder.
  34. 11 August 2017: Leah Cohen, 66, and her daughter Hannah Cohen, 33, were stabbed to death. Joshua Cohen, 27, Leah’s son and Hannah’s brother, has been charged with their murders.
  35. 11 August 2017: Hannah Cohen, 33, and her mother, Leah Cohen, 66, were stabbed to death. Joshua Cohen, 27, Hannah’s brother and Leah’s son, has been charged with their murders.
  36. 12 August 2017: Beryl Hammond, 81, was found dead at home. Her son, Darren Hammond, 41, has been charged with her murder.
  37. 14 August 2017: Quyen Ngoc Nguyen, 29, was found dead inside a burning car. William McFall, 50, and Stephen Unwin, 39, have been charged with her murder.
  38. 14 August 2017: Karen Jacquet, 59, was found dead by police called to an incident. Yousef Mohammed, 65, has been charged with murder.
  39. 27 August 2017: Jessica King, 23, was found dead. Jordan Thackray, 27, has been charged with her murder.
  40. 9 September 2017: Tyler Denton, 25, was found dead. Redvers Bickley, 21, was charged with her murder and the attempted murder of her father and two sisters
  41. September 2017: Emma Kelty, 43, was shot, raped, tortured and had her throat slit before her body was dumped in fast flowing water. She was kayaking down the Amazon river and killed in Brazil by drug traffickers.
  42. 24 September 2017: Jane Hings, 72, was found dead at home. Craig Keogh, 25, has been charged with her murder, rape and burglary.
  43. 27 September 2017: Nasima Noorzia, 29, was found dead in woodland by a roadside after a search following a call about concerns for her safety. Her husband, Habib Rahman, 42, has been charged with her murder.
  44. 28 September 2017: Katherine Smith, 26, was found dead. Anthony Lowe, 46, has been charged with her murder.
  45. 29 September 2017: Leanne McKie, 39, was found dead in a lake. Her husband Darren, McKie, 43, has been charged with her murder.

Awaiting charging information regarding the deaths of Samantha Blake-Mizen, Rosemarie Stokes and Anna Maria Pereira De Sousa Rebelo. Please let me know if you have information regarding the deaths of these women 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 2017

*Counting  Dead Women is a record of women and girls aged 13 and over. Saffie Roussos is commemorated here but not included in the count.

Last updated 2 October 2017