Is it enough if a person in a position of responsibility apologises for an offensive joke?

Steve Reddy Liverpool Domestic Abuse Strategic Lead and mother-in-law jokes about women’s suspicious deaths

Steve Reddy, Director of Liverpool City Council Children & Young People Services and Domestic Abuse Strategic Lead tweeted the following ‘joke’:

“Friday [clown face emoji]. Mrs R still angry with me because I didn’t open the car door to help her mother out. But as I’ve said – I just panicked and swam to the surface! Compounded this somewhat by the wreath I ordered in the shape of a lifebelt – but it’s what she would have wanted…” (9 April 2021)

Angela Clarke, on twitter Angela Madigan, Liverpool City Council Domestic Abuse and Domestic Homicide Review Commissioner doesn’t seem to think so, if her response: “Back with a vengeance“ is anything to go by. And to which Reddy ‘oh-so-humorously’ responded “Cheers mate, I did it again.”

Liverpool’s independent specialist domestic abuse service, (LDAS), didn’t share the amusement and asked the Chair of the domestic abuse strategy group why he was using Bernard Manning humour about women dying.

After trying to justify himself, Reddy replaced the subject of his joke with his father-in-law, before also deleting this second version, shortly after he said that he apologised unreservedly for any offence caused, it was absolutely not his intention.

Mother-in-law jokes are or were a misogynistic trope of the UK mainstream cultural fabric. They position younger men as normative and socially valuable, whilst positioning older women as the antithesis to this, disdainful and other, whilst reminding younger women of their destiny as disposable objects of ridicule with patriarchal best-before dates and signalling to younger heterosexual men that they should be wary of what their female partner may become. As LDAS pointed out, mother-in-law jokes belong in the dustbin of entertainment from the 1970s when sexist, racist humour was a lazy prop for sexist racist comedians like Manning.  But the stereotype endures.

The Femicide Census found that 13 women in the UK had been killed by the partner or ex-partner of their daughter between 2009 and 2018, (in other words, 13 men killed women who were or had been their mother-in-law or equivalent), just over one percent of all women killed by men in the UK. More extreme than mother-in-law jokes, certainly, but not unconnected. Societal norms and values can either create a conducive context for men’s violence against women or they can challenge and deconstruct. Mother-in-law jokes in particular and the normalisation of men’s violence against women and the perceived different social value of women and men (sex inequality) are the backdrop of these men’s murderous intent and actions.

Between 2009 and 2018, 43 women in Merseyside were killed by men. They include 28-year-old Jade Hales and her mum, Karen Hales, 53, making Karen one of the 13 women who were mother-in-laws noted above. In 2016, Anthony Showers, 42, broke into his ex-partner Jade’s home and killed and raped her and killed her mother, his ex-mother-in-law, Karen, who was disabled and needed a frame to walk, by bludgeoning both women to death with a hammer. This year, Merseyside MPs held an emergency meeting called by Labour MP Paula Barker, after three women, Helen Joy, Rose Marie Tinton and N’Taya Elliott Cleverley, were killed in one weekend in January. Surely, this alone should mean that Liverpool’s senior council officials recognised – for themselves – that women’s suspicious deaths were not an appropriate subject matter for humour. It is inconceivable that the person who commissions domestic homicide reviews in the city was unaware of this.

Merseyside police reported an increase in reports of domestic abuse of 10.4 per cent – equivalent to 18,782 victims – between April 1 and November 30 2020, compared to the same period the year before.Yvonne Roberts, writing for the Observer, reported that in the last year LDAS, Liverpool’s specialist independent service for women,  has seen a 145% increase in demand for counselling and group-based support and the highest number of self-referrals in its 15-year history. Yet this specialist independent service of experts has increasingly found themselves frozen out by Liverpool City Council and council funded services for women victims of domestic violence and abuse in the city are provided by a national provider that does not have a specific focus on women victims of men’s violence. YSadly this commissioning pattern, ignoring decades of research that show that women victim-survivors of men’s violence are best served and feel safer using  specialist independent local women-led services and moreover, ignoring that women are the vast majority of victims of domestic and sexual violence, has been seen across the UK for more than a decade.  If a woman in Liverpool looks for domestic abuse support on Liverpool City Council’s website, the first ‘service’ she will see is that for ‘Ask Ani’, a national scheme much vaunted by the government, whereby women can approach any one of 2,500 pharmacies and ask for Ani. In contrast to the experience of Liverpool’s specialist service and those of specialist independent women’s charities across the country, the Ask Ani scheme, with its 2,500 access points, has attracted less that one woman a week across the entire country since its launch in January. Women who are subjected to men’s violence reach out to those they trust. It doesn’t look to me like Ask Ani is it. When abused women don’t access services, it doesn’t mean that abuse isn’t happening, it’s much more likely to mean that  (if they know about the service) they don’t think it can or will help.  

Men’s fatal violence against women isn’t the only reason that Liverpool has made the national news this year. Girls at Broughton Hall Catholic High School, in West Derby, Liverpool, were advised to wear shorts under their skirts after male pupils were allegedly caught taking photos up their skirts as they used a transparent glass staircase. The school had previously taken swift action to address its concerns that females were wearing inappropriate pencil skirts by sending them home. Evidently the school expects females to take responsibility for the male gaze and sexual harassment.

Steve Reddy, Director of Liverpool City Council Children & Young People Services and Domestic Abuse Strategic Lead, also has form with his regard to his antipathy to recognising the critical importance of sex differences with regards to sexual and domestic violence and abuse. In 2018, Steve Reddy’s first act, as Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy Lead was to propose that the VAWG strategic group was renamed because  (to quote from his own email)  the “remit and scope did not sufficiently capture the breadth of issues involved in domestic abuse – particularly in terms of male victims.”

The United Nations recognises that (men’s) violence against women in public and private life impedes the ability of women and girls to claim, realize [SIC] and enjoy their human rights on an equal foot with men. Is it enough if someone in a position of responsibility apologises for an offensive joke? One of the things I’d want to know is whether ‘the joke’ chimes or contrasts with their track record. We can all say or do things that we regret and don’t really mean when we reflect on them later. But it’s not the only question. What if that person has a lead role with regards to the protection of the demographic that is the subject of said joke? What if violence – including fatal violence – against that demographic has reached unprecedented levels? What if that person’s track record is one of undermining the human rights abuses of and specialist provision for that subjugated demographic? Then, no, whether causing offence was the intention or not, I don’t think it is good enough.

On 13 April, Reddy announced that he was standing down as chair of Liverpool Domestic Abuse Strategy Group.

2021

2021

At least 72 UK women have been killed by men (or where a man is the principal suspect) so far in 2021:

  1. 4 January 2021: Eileen Dean, 93, was found badly injured on her bed in a care home in South London. She had suffered injuries to her head and neck, some of which, it is reported, were inflicted with her walking stick. Fellow care home resident Alexander Rawson, 62, has been charged with her murder.
  2. 7 January 2021: Sue Addis, 69, died after being stabbed in her home near Brighton. A 17-year-old male who cannot be named for legal reasons but is said to be known to her, has been charged with her murder.
  3. 11 January 2021: Carol Hart, 77, was found dead in a house in Devon.  Michael Robinson, 35, has been charged with her murder.
  4. 17 January 2021: Jacqueline Price, who was in her late 50s, was found unconscious and later died at her home in Andreas, on the Isle of Man Her son, James Price, 21, has been charged with her murder and the attempted murder of his father, her husband.
  5. 17 January 2021: Mary Wells, 21, was stabbed to death in Colchester, Essex. Adam Butt, 21, has been charged with her murder.
  6. 24 January 2021: Tiprat Argatu, 43, was found dead with head and neck injuries in a property in Whitechapel, London by police responding to calls of concern for her welfare. David Cheres, 19, has been charged with her murder.
  7. 27 January 2021: Christie Frewin, 25, was found with fatal injuries at her home in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.  Alex Staines, 30, has been charged with her murder.
  8. 28 January 2021: Souad Bellaha, 62, was found dead in a house in Maidstone, Kent.  Abdelaziz El Msseyah, 57, has been charged with her murder.
  9. 29 January 2021: Ann Turner, 82, was found dead in her home in Herefordshire. A 56-year-old man, arrested on suspicion of murder, has been detained under the Mental Health Act. The police are not looking for anyone else in connection to the incident.
  10. 29 January 2021: N’Taya Elliott-Cleverley, 20, was found dead in a property in Liverpool. 19-year-old Mohammed Diakite, also known as Nigel Diakite, has been charged with her murder.
  11. 29 January 2021: Rose Marie Tinton, 77, known as Marie, was found dead at her home in Southport who were following enquiries after a man was hit by a train some hours earlier. He remains in hospital, under arrest for suspicion of murder.
  12. 31 January 2021: Ranjit Gill, 43, was found dead at home in Milton Keynes with significant injuries. Her husband Anil Gill, 46, has been charged with murder.
  13. 1 February 2021: Helen Joy, 54, was found dead in Wirral. Kevin Ashton, has been charged with her murder.
  14. 4 February 2021: Emma Robertson, 39, was stabbed to death, shortly before her daughter Nicole Anderson, 24, was also killed. Her estranged husband, Steven Robertson, 40, is thought to have killed them both before killing himself.
  15. 4 February 2021: Nicole Anderson, 24, was stabbed to death, shortly after her mother, Emma Robertson, 29, had also been killed. Steven Robertson, 40, her mother’s estranged husband, is thought to have killed them both before killing himself.
  16. 6 February 2021: Linda Maggs, 74, was found unresponsive and declared dead by ambulance staff in Pontypool. Her husband, David Maggs, 70, has been charged with her murder.
  17. 6 February 2021: Carol Smith, 75, was found dead by police who had been called to a home in Bexhill, Sussex. She had been shot.  A 78-year-old man who was found with a serious injury, remains arrested on suspicion of murder.  
  18. 7 February 2021: Sophie Moss, 33, was found in a critical condition but pronounced dead shortly later, in a house in Darlington, County Durham. Sam Pybus, 31, has been charged with her murder.
  19. 11 February 2021: Christina Rowe, 28, was found dead in the River Severn in Worcester. Charles Byrne, 24, has been charged with her murder and the attempted murder of another person.
  20. 11 February 2021: Susan Hannaby, 69, was found dead by emergency services attending a house fire in Wrexham, Wales.  Her grandson, Kyle Ellis, 25, has been charged with her murder.
  21. 13 February 2021: Michelle Lizanec, 44, was found dead by police, in a house in Dundee after what has been described as a day-long stand-off. A 46-year-old man, thought to be her partner, has been charged with murder.
  22. 15 February 2021: Wieslawa Mierzejewska, 59, was found dead in a house in Cambridgeshire. Her son, Ernest Grusza, 40, has been charged with her murder.
  23. 17 February 2021: Bennylyn Burke, 25, and her 2-year-old daughter Jellica, were last seen at their home in Gloucestershire. They were reported missing on 1 March, with her other child who has since been found alive.  Their bodies were found on 17 March, concealed in a house in Dundee. Andrew Innes, 50, has been charged with their murders.
  24. 20 February 2021: Judith Rhead, 68,  was found dead in a property in Pembrokeshire, wales. Dale Morgan, 43, has been charged with her murder.
  25. 22 February 2021: Anna Ovsyannikova, 48, was found dead in a house in Ealing, W. London. Curtis Brown, 48, has been charged with her murder.
  26. February 2021; Tina Eyre, 62, is said to have been beaten to death with a shovel. She was from Gloucester but had retired to Bulgaria, where she was killed. Neighbours who were worried that they hadn’t seen her discovered her boyfriend digging a grave. He has since admitted to police that he killed her.
  27. 2 March 2020: Samantha Heap, 45, was found dead in a house in Congleton, Cheshire. David Mottram, 47, has been charged with her murder.
  28. 3 March 2021: Sarah Everard, 33, went missing when walking home in South London. Her body was found a week later inside a builder’s bag in woodland, in Ashford, Kent. Wayne Cuzens, 48, a serving police officer, has been charged with her murder.
  29. 4 March 2021: Geetika Goyal, 29, was found stabbed and dying in a street in Leicestershire. Kashish Aggarwal, 29, has been charged with her murder.
  30. 4 March 2021: Imogen Bohajczuk, 29, was found dead in a house in Oldham by police responding to a call of concern about her welfare. Daniel Smith, 41, has been charged with her murder.
  31. 5 March 2021: Wenjing Xu, 16, was stabbed to death in Wales. Chun Xu, 31 has been charged with her murder.  
  32. 19 March 2021: Karen McClean, 50, was stabbed to death in Newtownabbey, N. Ireland, identifying her son Ken Flanagan, 26, as the assailant as she was dying. Flanagan also killed his partner, Stacey Knell, 30.
  33. 19 March 2021: Stacey Knell, 30, was stabbed to death by her partner Ken Flanagan, 26, in Newtownabbey, N. Ireland. Flanagan had also stabbed and killed his mother Karen McClean, 50.  
  34. 23 March 2021: Smita Mistry (also known as Smita Saunders), 32, was found dead in house in Leicester. Frank Farrell, 36, has been charged with her murder.
  35. 23 March 2021: Samantha (Sammy) Mills, 31, died in a house fire in Huddersfield, in which a man was also killed and 4 other people injured. Craig Collier, 34, has been charged with arson with intent to endanger life.
  36. 25 March, 2021: Patricia Audsley, 66, was found dead in a house in Mirfield, W. Yorkshire. Nigel Audsley, 66, has been charged with her murder.
  37. 26 March 2021: Phyllis Nelson, 76, was found dead in her home in East London. Donovan Miller, 30, reported to be hr grandson, has been charged with her murder.
  38. 27 March 2021: Klaudia Soltys, 30, was found dead in a house in Hull. Amadeusz Sekula, 20, has been charged with her murder.
  39. 29 March 2021: Simone Ambler, 49, was found dead with multiple stab wounds in a house in Blackpool. Donald Payne, 62, has been charged with her murder.
  40. 1 April 2021: Emma McArthur, 49, died from her injuries after being found lying at a road junction near her home in Berkshire. She had been stabbed in the neck and chest. Donald Payne, 62, described as her on-off partner, has been charged with her murder.
  41. 1 April 2021: Sherrie Milnes, 51, was found dead in a house of Weymouth with multiple stab wounds and also having suffered compression to the neck. Steven Doughty, 54, is believed to have killed her before killing himself.
  42. 4 April 2021: Constanta Bunea, 50, was found dead in the bathroom on a flat in Plumstead, S.E. London. Vasile Bratu, 39, has been charged with her murder.
  43. 6 April 2021: Jacqueline Grant, 54, was found dead in hr home in Glasgow with multiple knife wounds to her head and body. Michael Dorey, 46, has been charged with her murder.
  44. 9 April 2021: Loretta Herman, 85, was found dead in the bathtub of her home in East London. The cause of her death was compression to the neck. Her son, Mark Herman, 54, has been charged with her murder.
  45. 9 April 2021: Egle Vengaliene, 34, was found dead in a lake in a park in Suffolk. Her husband Andrius Vengalis, 46, has been charged with her murder.
  46. 10 April 2021: Sally Metcalf, 68, died of compression to her neck. Her husband, Johnathan Metcalf, 72, was found hanged. The police said Sally’s death was being treated as murder.
  47. 13 April 2020: Sarah Keith, 26, was found dead in a flat in Leeds. Her partner Carl Chadwick 35, has been charged with her murder.
  48. 18 April 2021: Peggy Wright, 83, died after jumping out of a window to escape a fire started in an arson attack on her home in Birmingham. Mark O’Brien, 46, has been charged in relation to her death.
  49. 23 April 2021: Charmaine O’Donnell, 25, died after being pulled from the water at Helensburgh Pier, Scotland. A 28-year-old man has been charged in relation to her death.
  50. 23 April 2021: Michelle Cooper, 40, died in hospital due to head injuries, after being attacked in Jaywick, Essex. Jordan Stanley, 20, has been charged with her murder.
  51. 25 April 2021: Kerry Bradford, 57, was found dead at home in Newport, Wales, by police investigating the death of a her husband, Nicholas Bradford, 57, who had fallen to his death in the city centre. Police believe he killed her before killing himself.
  52. 27 April 2021: Julia James, 53, was found dead with serious head injuries, in woodland in Kent, where she had taken her dog for a walk. On 10 May, Callum Wheeler, 21, was charged with her murder.
  53. 30 April 2021; Beth Aspey, 34, was found dead by police at her home in Reading, she had suffered blunt force injury to her head. Her boyfriend Ben Shand.45, has been charged with her murder.
  54. 2 May 2021: Susan Booth, 62, was found with severe injuries outside a house in Oldham, Lancashire. Stephen Booth, 63, has been charged with her murder.
  55. 3 May 2021: Maya Zulfiquar, 26, from London, was strangled and shot in Lahore, Pakistan. It is alleged that she had been threatened by men who wanted to marry her. No charges have yet been made.
  56. 4 May 2021: Maria Rawlings, 45, was found dead in bushes near Romford, Essex. She had head injuries and had been strangled, it is believed she was walking home from hospital. Valentin Lazar, 20, has been charged with her murder.
  57. 4 May 2021: Chenise Gregory, 29, from London, was found stabbed to death in a hotel in Harrogate, N. Yorkshire.  It is believed she was killed by her partner, Michael McGibbon, 29, before he killed himself.
  58. 9 May 2021: Agnes Akom, 20, also know as Dora, was last seen in Cricklewood, London. Neculai Paizan, 63, has been charged with her murder. Her body has not yet been found.
  59. 10 May 2021: Wendy Cole, 70, was stabbed to death in her home in Cambridgeshire. Her son, John Cole, 35, has been charged with her murder.
  60. 11 May 2021: Caroline Crouch, 20, a British woman who lived in Athens, was strangled and tortured. Police have not yet identified any suspects.
  61. 12 May 2021: Svetlana Mihalachi, 53, died in hospital, five weeks after being attacked in a house in Ilford, London. Nicolae Virtosu, 47, had already been charged with attempted murder.
  62. 12 May 2021: Nicola Kirk, 45, died in hospital in Dumfries, Scotland after allegedly being deliberately driven at. Ian Edwards, 35, has been charged with murder.
  63. 13 May 2021: A 32-year-old woman who has bot been named, was found dead in a home in Ilford, London. Muhammad Ilyas, 40, said to be known to her, has been charged with her murder.
  64. 25 May 2021: Agita Geslere, 61, dies in hospital after being found with multiple stab wounds in a house in Barnsley, S. Yorkshire. Her son Renars Geslers, 31, has been charged with her murder.
  65. 26 May 2021: Lauren Wilson, 34, was stabbed to death in Renfrew, Scotland. Craig Walker, 39, has been charged with her murder.
  66. 27 May 2021: Peninah Kabeba, 42, was found dead at home in South London, with multiple stab wounds. Mohsen Saadi, 56, has been charged with her murder.
  67. 29 May 2021: Jill Hickery was found dead with stab wounds in a house in Cornwall. Donald Hickery, 84, has been charged with her murder.
  68. 31 May 2021: Bethany Vincent, 26, and her 9-year-old son, Darren, were stabbed to death at their home in Louth, Lincolnshire. Her ex-partner, Daniel Boulton, 29, has been charged with their murders.
  69. 1 June 2021: Esther Brown, 67, was found dead in her flat in Glasgow. Jason Graham, 30, has been charged with her murder and rape.
  70. 1 June 2021: Michaela Hall, 49, was found dead in a house in Truro, Cornwall. Lee Kendall, 42, has been charged with her murder.
  71. 1 June 2021: Mildred Whitmore, 84, was found dead in her home in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Chase Kelly, 31, has been charged with her murder and burglary.
  72. 2 June 2021: Stacey Clay, 39, died in hospital after being found seriously injured in her garden in Nottingham on 19 May. Matthew Farmer, 42, had been charged with attempted murder and police are not looking for anyone else.

Waiting for further information regarding the deaths of   Unnamed woman, Aberdeen, unnamed woman, Doncaster, unnamed woman, Wolverhampton,   Mollie Taylor, Dyanne MansfieldA woman found dead in Leicester, Jackie Murphy, Leicester, Tracey McGrath, LiverpoolDiane Mitchell, Gloucester

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 7 June 2021

1,000 dead women

In memory of Kirsty Treloar

New Year’s Day 2019 and before dawn on the first morning of the New Year a woman in her early thirties, whose name has not yet been made public, was stabbed to death in Camberwell, South London. She will be the 1,000th woman killed by a man whose name I will record on my website Counting Dead Women.

7 years ago today, 20 year-old Kirsty Treloar received a text from Miles Williams, the 19 year-old father of her not-yet 4-week old baby. The text read

“Okay wer all gud now and my new yrs ressy is that i aint going to hit u again and i won’t hit u 4 this yr next yr the yr after that the next yr after that.”

And went on to say “But I wont u to swear on (their daughter’s) life u wont p.ss me off and do things to make me angry love you 4 eva.’

Kirsty was terrified of Miles and had been trying to extricate herself from their relationship; she told him that she didn’t want to see him. She’d spent Christmas at her family home in Hackney. The next day, Kirsty paid the price of lack of compliance.  Williams broke in to the house and dragged her in to a car, stabbing and wounding her sister and brother who were trying to protect her. She was later found dead, dumped beside bins some two miles away. She had been stabbed 29 times.

A few weeks before, Kirsty had been referred to nia, the charity where I work, which supports women and girls subjected to men’s violence. I was told of Kirsty’s death and looked on the internet to see if I could find out what had happened. But Kirsty wasn’t the only woman killed by a man at the start of the year, there were multiple reports of fatalities of women and so I made a note of their names because I wanted to know how many there were. It turned out that in the first three days of 2012, eight women in the UK had been killed by men : three shot, one stabbed, one strangled with a dog lead, strangled, one – a 77 year-old woman – beaten to death with her own walking stick, and an 87 year old woman battered to death with blunt force trauma by her own grandson.

Seven years and 1000 women later, I haven’t stopped recording the names of women killed by men. In reality, the number is even higher, every year there are a number of unsolved cases where women have been killed and statistically almost all of them will have been committed by men. There are cases where men appear to have played a direct role in the death of a woman but they manage to evade prosecution. I suspect there are women whose disappearance has gone unreported, or whose absence has gone unacknowledged and whose body will never be found.   There are women who die of secondary causes related to long histories of abuse by men and there are women who kill themselves because that is the only route they can see to end the pain of violence and abuse.

I continued because I cannot bring myself to say that the next woman killed isn’t important. I continue because a focus on intimate partner homicides at the exclusion of other killings disguises and diminishes the true rate of men’s fatal violence against women. I continue because the killing of women by their current and former partners is so normalised that it is not recognised as a national emergency. I continue because the need for  and benefits of specialist single-sex services for women victim-survivors of men’s violence are still subjected to challenge and given insufficient regard. I continue because I want someone to bear witness and commemorate our sisters. I continue because the slaying of women by men, although it has happened at least 1,000 times in seven years, continues to be described by the police and reported in the media as an ‘isolated incident.’ I continue because I believe the more we look, the more we can learn and the more effectively we can take steps to reduce men’s violence against women. I continue because I believe a different world is possible, but it is only by consciously committing to making changes that look at the multitude of factors that support and enable men’s violence against women, that will give us a hope in hell of getting there.

Male entitlement to women’s spaces, bodies and lives

 

“Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl

Than to be with another man

 Catch you with another man 

That’s the end’a little girl”

 John Lennon and Paul McCartney

 

“I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me but I will punish you all for it.   …….. If I can’t have you girls, I will destroy you. [laughs] You denied me a happy life and in turn I will deny all of you life, it’s only fair. I hate all of you.”

Elliot Rodger

Male entitlement is a deadly seam running through male violence against women whether coercive control, FGM, rape, prostitution, trafficking or murder.

According to government statistics, approximately 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year, that’s an average of 233 women raped by men in the UK every day. Last year in the UK, 142 women were killed through suspected male violence, that’s one dead woman every 2.5 days; and between January and April this year, 50 UK women have been killed. The World Health Organisation estimates that between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to one of the first three types of female genital mutilation. Prostitution, pornography and trafficking reduce women to commodities, possessions and objects for market exchange, men the purchasers, controllers and profit-makers.   It is estimated that prostitution revenue is around £110 billion per year worldwide, involves around 40-42 million people worldwide, of which 90% are dependent on a procurer,  75% are between 13 and 25 years old and the overwhelming majority are women. The global pornography industry was estimated to be worth  £57 billion in 2006.  Approximately 230 girls are still missing, more than a month after they were abducted in Chibok, Nigeria.  Women are still routinely ‘given away’ by their fathers in marriage ceremonies and fathers, not mothers are named on marriage certificates.  Male entitlement to women and girls and male violence against women and girls are inextricable.

Mass killings make news headlines in the way day-to-day fatal violence rarely does.  The day after Elliott Rodger murdered six people, 82-year old Harold Ambrose called the police from the home he shared with his wife in Boxted, Essex, and told them that he had shot her dead. When armed police reached the house, they found 77-year-old Wendy Ambrose,  sitting dead in a chair in the living room with two gunshots to her head and face. Harold Ambrose was found dead in the garden with a single gunshot wound to his head.  Harold Ambrose’s name has not trended on twitter, it has not made widespread national, let alone international, news coverage.  A man killing a woman is so ‘everyday’ that those who set the agenda do not deem it worthy of attention.

Male entitlement to women’s spaces crosses the realms of the theoretical, cultural and physical.  Whether it’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers aka Stockholm Syndrome: the musical, misogynist fantasies of emotional and sexual abuse in the guise of stories for children or adult women, Tom Jones (for example and by no alone) with his songs of Christmas rape or murdering women, popular culture from fairy-tale to pop-music and film is littered with the message that women exist for men. The guy gets the girl. Reward. Happy ending. Some of the men that haven’t management to grasp the intricacies of women’s liberation from structural oppression demand to be, rather than support, feminists. Socially constructed gender and biological sex become conflated, woman is seen as a state of mind. Women-only conferences are threatened by men’s rights activists and women’s domestic and sexual violence services are increasingly re-commissioned as ‘gender-neutral’ services under a barely disguised reactionary ideology.  And whilst I was delighted to learn that Sweden has just elected the only formal feminist party to the EU parliament with a Roma woman, Soraya Post as its representative, my heart sank when I read that the role of men is seen as the same as that of women in the Swedish Feminist Initiative. How can we be the same when in patriarchal society we are anything but?

It has now been confirmed that Elliot Rodgers killed six people, four men and two women, the motivating force of his entitled misogyny and bitter jealously revealed in his self-recorded “last video”.  Elliot Rodger’s sense of entitlement is glaringly obvious. Prostitution was even suggested as a possible – missed – solution to Rodger’s choice to kill.  As explored here by Megan Murphy “What could possibly be a better cure for male entitlement than more male entitlement?” Glaringly obvious and not unusual, male entitlement is frequently accepted as an excuse or justification for everyday fatal male violence against women. For most women, leaving a violent relationship is the best way to end the violence (63%) but for over a third it is not: the violence reduced for eight per cent, stayed about the same for five per cent,changed to something else, such as stalking and other harassment, for 18 per cent, got worse for three per cent and only started when they split up for three per cent.  In my tracking of UK women killed through male violence, women being killed by men when they ended relationships, as they left, as they formed relationships with others or after leaving a violence relationship is ever present: Jabeen Younis, 30; Samantha Medland, 24; Rosemary Gill, 48; Chloe Siokos, 80; Gabielle Stanley, 28; Julie Beattie, 24; Da In Lee, 22; Shaista Khatoon, 33; Marion Vita, 48; Janee Parsons, 31. This list could go on and on. Whilst men’s murderous entitlement to women’s spaces, bodies and lives continues unchecked and sometimes supported by liberal capitalist ideology, male violence against women and girls will continue and the lists of women killed by men will continue to grow longer.

Counting Dead Women: Reviewing 2012 – How 107 dead women became 126

When I talk about why I started counting dead women, I begin with my realisation that in the first three days of 2012, seven UK women had been killed though male violence.  More than two years later, I found out it wasn’t seven women in three days, but eight.

Betty Yates, a retired teacher who was 77 years-old, was found dead at home in her house in Bewdley, Worcestershire on 4th January.  She had been beaten with a walking stick and stabbed in the head four times, two days earlier.  The knife used to kill her was still embedded in her neck.  Stephen Farrow, 48, was charged with her murder through DNA evidence matched after he murdered vicar John Suddard on 13 February.

2012 then, in the first three days of the year, eight women were killed though male violence.  Three days: 8 dead women: 3 shot, 2 stabbed, 1 strangled, 1 smothered and one beaten to death through 15 blunt force trauma injuries.

By the end of the year, I’d counted and named 107 women killed though suspected male violence, but as cases of women’s killings went to court, that number grew.  By February 2013 it was 109 women, by  the end of July it became 114, then 118.  In October 2013, I added Carole Waugh and then later Louise Evans;  in March 2014, I added Sally Ann Harrison.  May 2014, and not only is there Betty Yates but Jenny Methven, Yong Li Qui, Patricia Seddon and Eleftheria Demetriou.

Jenny Methven was 80 years-old when she was found dead on 20th February, she died through blunt force injuries to her head and body. Her skull was fractured from one side to the other with bone splinters embedded in her brain. 46-year-old William Kean has been found guilty of her murder.

Yong Li Qui, 42,  was murdered by Gang Wang, 48.  In his trial, he denied he intended to kill her or cause her really serious harm. He had beaten her head with an object so severely that her skull was fractured and her brain tissue could be seen.  She died on 25th March, a week after being attacked.

Patricia Seddon, 65, and her husband Robert, 68, were shot dead by their son Stephen. Four months earlier, he had staged a road accident and attempted to kill them by driving into a canal with them strapped in the back seats of a car.

Eleftheria Demetriou, 79, was stabbed to death by Hakim Abdillah, 38, she was killed through multiple wounds to the heart and spleen by a man she had befriended and who used to call her ‘grandma’.

I’ve written before about how I initially started counting women killed by men who were partners, ex-partners or family members: domestic violence; I’ve also looked at how femicide is a more useful but still problematic term because, whilst using patriarchal society as a context  it focuses on women killed because they are women  and not enough on toxic masculinity.

Between the five women above, two, Betty Yates and Patricia Seddon were murdered by men who also murdered a man.  I don’t know how the sex of 80 year-old Jenny Methven, 79 year-old Eleftheria Demetriou, and 77 year-old Betty, was relevant when they were killed by William Kean, 46,  Hakim Abdillah, 38 and Stephen Farrow, 48.  The age gaps between killer and victim, the inevitable differences in their strength; and the brutality of their attacks mean masculinity and power over women and misogyny, the hatred of women cannot be ruled out.   But the differences between the numbers of men who kill women (or men) to the number of women who kill women or men; and the number of men who kill their mothers (or father) to the number of women who kill a parent mean that if we want to end male violence against women, we need to look at patriarchy, sex inequality and socially constructed toxic gender for the answers.

The names of all 126 UK women killed through male violence in 2012 can be found here.

What do you think of when you hear the term ‘Cultural Violence’?

Culture is the ideas, social behaviours and traditions or customs of a particular society or group.

Cultural violence occurs when an someone is harmed as a result of practices that are part of her culture or tradition.  In patriarchal societies male violence against women is cultural, it is normalised, it functions as a cause and consequence of inequality between women and men.

In the UK, for April 2014, we could represent cultural violence like this:

April 201 - 15 women

(Left to right. Top row: Doreen Walker, Senga Closs, Kayleigh Palmer, Image to represent Sandra Boakes, Yvette Hallsworth; Middle row: Isabelle Sanders, Judith Nibbs, Pauline Butler, Angela Smeaton, Doreen Webb; Bottom row: Image to represent Elaine Duncan, Malgorzata Dantes, Ann Maguire, Carol Dyson, Susan Ashworth).     

The fifteen women above were all killed in the UK in April 2014. The primary suspects alleged to have killed them are all male.  Fatal male violence against women in the UK is so normalised that only the killing of one of these women made a significant impact on the media.  In the UK, the predominant culture makes fatal male violence against women invisible, it is rarely named as a cultural practice and there is resistance to attempts made to do so.

The woman killed though alleged male violence in the UK in April 2014 were aged between 16 and 75 years old.  Their killers were aged between 15 and 79 years old.  The men who allegedly killed the women made the following choices: One to kill a woman through multiple injuries, one to kill a woman through head injuries, one to strangle a woman, one to decapitate a woman, one to smoother a woman, one to kill her in a house fire or use a house fire to disguise his method of killing and seven to stab women to death  The methods by which two women were killed have not been made publicly available, we don’t yet know about the choices the men made who killed them. At least eight men are alleged to have killed a partner or former partner, one is alleged to have killed one of his teachers and one is alleged to have killed his mother. The relationship between alleged perpetrator and victim has not been released in four cases when men killed women in the UK in April 2014.

In the UK, if asked to describe the term ‘cultural violence’ in relation to April 2014, do we think about these fifteen dead women? If not, we should.