Quick fixes like changing gun control laws wouldn’t have saved the 13 UK women killed through suspected male violence in July 2013

This week the government published new guidance on gun control in the UK including a provision that those with a history of domestic violence should not be permitted to possess a firearm or gun.  The case of Michael Atherton who shot dead three women: Susan McGoldrick, Alison Turnbull and Tanya Turnbull on 1st January 2012 is painful evidence that this was needed and overdue.   Michael Atherton’s history of domestic violence was known to the police, but he was still issued a gun  license and legally owned six weapons.

However, gun controls would have prevented the deaths of none of the 13 UK women killed in July 2013 alone, through suspected male violence,  the same month that this legislation change was introduced.  This is because, of those 13 women none were shot:

    • 5 were stabbed
    • 2 were strangled
    • 2 were killed through blows from a bunt object
    • 1 was asphyxiated
    • 1 was killed through head injuries
    • 1 was burnt alive, and
    • 1 was so badly decomposed that post-mortem results have been inconclusive

The men arrested for the killings have all been known to the women:

    • In 5 cases the man arrested was a      husband/ex-husband of the women killed
    • In 5 cases the man arrested was a      boyfriend/ex-boyfriend
    • One man has been arrested for the murder of his daughter
    • One man has been arrested for the murder of his grandmother
    • 2 men have been arrested for the murder of a woman from the same      address.

If the government is serious about ending male violence against women it need to look at the causes.   Of course tightening gun control is a good thing , but women’s lives will continue to be taken if the focus is on headline grabbing quick wins.  Male violence against women and girls is a cause and consequence of inequality between women and men upheld by divisive gender standards. Until a government seriously approaches the issue from that perspective, women and girls will continue to be beaten, raped, assaulted, abused, controlled and killed by men.

Femicide: UK women killed through suspected male violence January – July 2013

66 UK women killed through suspected male violence so far in 2013.  66 women in  212 days, that’s one  woman every 3.2 days.

Name Age Date killed
Janelle Duncan Bailey 25 02-Jan
Akua Agyueman 23 03-Jan
Anastasia Voykina 23 07-Jan
Myrna Kirby 57 11-Jan
Suzanne Bavette Newton 45 13-Jan
Virginja Jurkiene 49 19-Jan
Chloe Siokos 80 22-Jan
Debbie Levey 44 28-Jan
Sasha Marsden 16 31-Jan
Una Crown 86 31-Jan
Hayley Pointon 30 03-Feb
Pernella Forgie 79 07-Feb
Ganimete Hoti 42 11-Feb
Samantha Medland 24 17-Feb
Alexis Durant 42 20-Feb
Glynis Solmaz 65 20-Feb
Dimitrina Borisova 46 21-Feb
Victoria Rose 58 02-Mar
Chantelle Barnsdale-Quean 35 04-Mar
Susan Cole 54 06-Mar
Christina Edkins 16 06-Mar
Jennifer Rennie 26 11-Mar
Daneshia Arthur 30 18-Mar
Pamela Jackson 55 last seen 20 March
Mary Roberts 50 27-Mar
Janis Dundas 63 05-Apr
Deborah Simister 45 08-Apr
Lisa Clay 41 09-Apr
Mariam Ali Shaaban Hussain Khesroh 24 11-Apr
Dawn Warburton 40 13-Apr
Naika Inayat 52 17-Apr
Jabeen Younis 32 19-Apr
Irene Dale 78 27-Apr
Heather Arthur 50 29-Apr
Salma Parveen 22 29-Apr
Christine Baker 52 30-Apr
Margaret Knight 77 01-May
Sara Bates 33 04-May
Margaret Mercati 63 15-May
Margery Gilbey 88 24-May
Georgia Williams 17 26-May
Yvonne Walsh 25 02-Jun
Krishnamaya Mabo 39 03-Jun
Myrna Holman 76 03-Jun
Reema Ramzan 18 04-Jun
Katie Jenkin 20 08-Jun
Alice McMeekin 58 08-Jun
Marianne Stones 58 09-Jun
Lilima Akter 27 14-Jun
Zaneta Kindzierska 32 16-Jun
Mushammod Asma Begum 21 20-Jun
Linzi Ashton 25 29-Jun
Rania Alayed 25 Inconclusive, her body still has not   been found
Louisa Denby 84 01-Jul
Kate Dixon 40 02-Jul
Denise Williamson 44 05-Jul
Sabeen Thandi 37 07-Jul
Shavani Kapoor 35 10-Jul
Jane McRae 55 17-Jul
Julie Beattie 24 19-Jul
Rosemary Gill 48 20-Jul
Alexandra Kovacs 25 Inconclusive
Jean Redfern 67 22-Jul
Sarah Redfern 33 22-Jul
Keisha McKenzie 28 29-Jul
Linah Keza 29 31-Jul

Funny Old World

I’m pleased to see the widespread media coverage and condemnation of violently misogynistic social media, including the death and rape threats to Caroline Criado-Perez and Stella Creasy, both women that I respect and who are working to make changes for women.  I’m pleased to see that so far two arrests (of men) have been made in relation to these threats.

I’m pleased to see how many women and men have spoken out in support of Caroline and Stella and against the cowardly bullies who seek to silence and intimidate them and many other women who dare to raise their voices.

I’m hopeful that we might be reaching a point when misogynistic abuse is no longer accepted as an inevitable consequence of women’s use of social media.

Ironically though, I haven’t seen one headline about actual rapes.

  • Maybe I missed the headline telling us that 350 rapes were reported to London’s  Metropolitan Police last month (June 2013).  A 40% increase on June 2012.

Ironically, I haven’t seen much coverage of actual murders of women through male violence.

Maybe I’ve missed the media coverage that looks at death and rape threats in the context of femicide and sexual violence against women.

I’m fed up that connections are not being made. Male violence against women and girls is not just about threats through social media.  It is a reality of life across the world. What is it going to take before we all say that male violence against women and girls needs to end?

What about the men?

This is an update of a piece I wrote at the beginning of April about the men who killed women in the UK in 2012 and the methods they chose to do so.

Femicide is the killing of women by men because they are women, some include the killing of women by women where patriarchal views can be seen, in other words femicide is the killing of women  motivated, directly or indirectly, by misogyny and sexism.

I wrote  ‘Counting Dead Women’ on 25th March 2013 about  112 UK women killed in the UK through male violence in 2012, but through researching trial outcomes, that number was revised and had to be increased to 114. Repeating the exercise for this piece  eight  months later, again, the figure needs to be revised.  It now stands at 120.  120 women in the UK were killed through male violence in 2012, that’s one woman in the UK killed through male violence every 3.04 days.

The 120 women were killed by 118 men, four men were multiple killers. One man killed three women, three men killed two. Two women was killed by two men  and another by two men and a woman.

So far, 63 men have been found guilty of murdering 65 women.

Ten men, who killed 12 women between them have killed themselves. Five men shot themselves after shooting seven women, one man drowned himself after drowning his partner, one man hanged himself after strangling his partner and of three men who stabbed women they were or had been married to, one killed himself through poisoning, one by slitting his own throat and one in what is described as a serious self-harm incident whilst in prison.

17 men have been found not guilty or murder but guilty of manslaughter (two of which were culpable homicide sentences in Scotland). Even the name manslaughter renders women invisible.  Of the 17 men found not guilty of murder, nine pleaded diminished responsibility on the grounds of mental  health problems;  three pleaded loss of control and three that they did not intend to kill. (I’ve been unable to find details of the mitigating factors put forward by the remaining two men.)  Of the 17 men found not guilty of murder:  Four men  had killed women by stabbing them, one man by axing and stabbing, five men  had beaten women to death with an object, three men had strangled them, two men had kicked women to death, one man had smothered a women and one man killed a women through multiple injuries.  One of the men was found not guilty of murder but convicted of manslaughter with a sentence of only seven and a half years, despite killing a woman by stabbing/slashing her  11 times in what was described as a frenzied attack and a history of 25 court appearances for 44 offences, which include offences relating to domestic violence.

16 men killed their mothers, or have been accused of their killing. One man has been found guilty of killing his grandmother.  Five of the men who killed their mothers were found guilty of manslaughter/culpable homicide. Two men who killed their mothers also killed themselves.

14 cases have not yet been to trial and one man has been judged unfit to stand trial.

Five older women, aged between 75 and 88 years were killed by younger men, aged  between 15 and 43 years as they were robbed/mugged.  Two of the women died of head injuries, two were strangled and one was beaten to death with a hammer.

The average age of men in the UK who killed women in 2012 is 38. The average age of the women killed is 44. If the men who killed their mothers (or grandmother) and those who preyed on elderly women because of their vulnerability are removed, the average age of male killers becomes 40 and that of women killed becomes 39.

It’s often the case that details of how men have chosen to kill women are not reported until the case has gone to trial, so the following list is still incomplete. However, from what has been reported to date, the primary means selected by men to cause death to women have been:

  • Shot:                                                          7 women
  • Stabbed:                                                    34 women
  • Stabbed and beaten:                              4 women
  • Blunt force trauma:                               7 women
  • Strangled:                                                 12 women
  • Asphyxiation :                                          4 women
  • Strangled & asphyxiation:                     3 women
  • Strangled, beaten and stabbed:           4 women
  • Drowning:                                                 1 woman
  • Hammer injuries:                                    4 women
  • Stabbed/axed/slashed:                          4 women
  • Multiple injuries from kicking and beating:

                           8 women

  • Burned:                                                     1 woman
  • Fire:                                                            2 women
  • Head Injuries:                                          14 women
  • Deliberate Car Crash:                             1 woman
  • Body still not found:                               1 woman

When we look at women killed by men, it is important that we name men’s violence.

Anybody would think that Florida State Attorney Angela Corey has a problem with young black men and women

Angela Corey is an American attorney currently serving as the State Attorney in Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit Court after being elected in 2008. She is the first woman to hold the position. Angela Corey is reputed to be a ‘tough on crime’ prosecutor. On average, Corey tries more male juveniles as adults than any other county court in Florida. However, Corey also tries a much greater percentage of black male juveniles as adults than the rest of Florida. In the five year period between 2006/7 and 2010/11, across the state of Florida, an average of 52 % of black male juveniles were tried as adults for crimes they had committed. Angela Corey tried an average of 70%. The same state over the same time period tried an average of 25% of white male juveniles as adults for crimes that they had committed, Angela Corey, on the other hand, tried an average of 18%. (Source)

florida juveniles tried as adults

In 2012, Julie Bindel interviewed Angela Corey. In a piece on the death penalty, Bindel quotes Corey talking about the death penalty:

“I had a young black woman tell me she was totally against the death penalty unless somebody killed someone in her family. Luckily justice is blind and we treat everyone’s loved ones the same.”

I do not support the death penalty. However, analysis of death penalty data tells us that Florida is far from unique with its racist application of ‘ justice’.  Since 1976, 35% of people executed in the USA were black, 56% were white.  Their victims were black in 15% of cases and white in 77% of cases. However, where the victim was white and the killer was black, there have been 261 executions (I prefer to see them as state sanctioned murders). Where the victim was black and the killer was white there have been only 20. What is particularly worrying is that America knows its justice is racist.   The United States General Accounting Office, Death Penalty Sentencing report from February 1990 states: “In 82% of the studies [reviewed], race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e., those who murdered whites were found more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks.”  Angela Corey is therefore just one of many, but if justice is -as she claims – blind, it is blind to racism not race.

Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old young black man was chased, beaten and shot by George Zimmerman in Florida on 26th February 2012. Zimmerman claimed he feared for his life and was acting in self-defence.

Less than two years previously, Marissa Alexander, a 31-year-old black American woman had been jailed under Corey.  On 1st August 2010, Marissa Alexander’s husband, Rico Gray, hit her, attempted to strangle her, threatened that no one else could have her and told her, “Bitch, I will kill you,” as he ran towards her. She fired a warning shot from her gun which was angled away from him. She did not hit him and originally Rico Grey said that he did not believe she had intended to kill him.

George Zimmerman pleaded self-defence,  even though he ignored a 911 call-taker’s recommendation that he did not need to leave his car and chase Trayvon Martin, even though, despite this recommendation to the contrary, he hunted for Trayvon Martin, confronted him, attacked him and shot him dead. Marissa Alexander was trying to flee from Rico Grey. She was in her mother’s home. He had attacked her moments before and was threatening to kill her. He has a record of domestic violence against her and several other women.

Trayvon Martin is dead. His shooter, his assailant, his attacker, George Zimmerman, walked free after being found not guilty of murder.

Rico Grey is alive and well. His shooter, who was trying to escape from him and against whom he has a history of violence, was found guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Marissa Alexander was sentenced to twenty years in prison.

George Zimmerman has a criminal record which included domestic violence and “battery of law enforcement officer”. Marissa Alexander did not have a prior criminal record.

Anyone would think that ‘tough on crime’ prosecutor Angela Corey is a little tougher on young black men than young white men. Anyone would think that ‘tough on crime’ prosecutor Angela Corey is a little less tough if the victim of crime is black. Anyone would think that ‘tough on crime’ prosecutor Angela Corey is a little tougher on crimes committed by black women with a history of being a victim of domestic violence.  Anyone would think that justice in America is racist.

Anyone wanting to support Marissa Alexander may want to sign this petition demanding that she is pardoned: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/503/600/056/dont-imprison-marissa-alexander-for-standing-her-ground/

Just a typical week in June – ignoring men’s abuse of women and children

135,000 tickets were sold for the Glastonbury Festival this year. How many of those attending will have complained that one of the main stages was named after a child abuser? How many even knew? What is the conspiracy of silence that allows a man who has been directly and publicly quoted as saying  “Girls used to queue up outside oral sex they were particularly keen on, I remember one of my regular customers, as it were, turned out to be 13, though she looked older.” And “All they wanted me to do was abuse them, sexually, which, of course, I was only too happy to do.” to continue to be so venerated? John Peel’s Festive Fifties may indeed hold treasured memories for many of the music industry’s agenda setters but given that he happily admitted shoving his dick in the mouth of a 13 year old girl, isn’t it time to shove him off his pedestal?

It’s not even a week since Linzi Ashton was found dead in Salford, Greater Manchester.  She died from strangulation and multiple injuries resulting from severe beating.  Her former boyfriend, Michael Cope is currently wanted by the police for her murder, before she died, he was wanted for raping her.  Yet the Police,  who confirmed that Cope has  a history of violent and aggressive behaviour and represents a risk to the community, have described their relationship as ‘acrimonious’ and this has been picked up and repeated – not challenged and not identified as victim blaming- in multiple press reports.  Acrimonious means “caustic, bitter, harsh”, it implies duality.  It does not describe a man with a history of physical and sexual violence.

The bodies of a family of three from Ireland, living in Spain were discovered after reportedly being dead several days. It is thought that Philip Wood  shot dead his wife Sheila and their daughter Sophie before shooting himself. Press reports have included details of the pressure that Philip Wood was under, of money problems, of Sheila Wood’s ill health and Sophie Wood being disabled, none have looked at the deaths within the context of male violence against women.

FBI files seen and reported by a British newspaper revealed that dead pop star Michael Jackson paid out over £23million to buy the silence of at least two dozen boys he abused over 15 years.  The FBI has allegedly held files – which included private investigators’ reports, phone transcripts and hours of audio tapes dating back to 1989 – since 2002.   Jackson was cleared of a charge of abusing a child before his death in 2005.  The files, despite being in possession of the state,  were not passed on to  the prosecutors.  The state knew and the state kept quiet.

The process of grooming in child sexual abuse has gained  wider awareness though the trials of groups of men with multiple victims, including cases in Oxford and Derbyshire.  Earlier this month,  Jeremy Forrest, a teacher aged 30 was found guilty of five charges of underage sex with a pupil, then 15 years old.  Now aged 16, she has spoken to a newspaper and claimed that it was she who groomed her teacher, not the other way round.  The interview has been widely reproduced and sensationalised  across the press.  Grooming is a process by which an abuser gains trust and establishes an emotional connection, making a potential victim feel special as a preparation for abuse,  the perpetrator progressively sexualises the relationship.   The girl is legally a child and her adult teacher had a duty of care for her.  Press reports of a child grooming an adult are collusion with the adult abuser.  The collusion suggests that grooming is something that the press can only identify if the perpetrators are groups of Asian men.

35% of women worldwide have experienced male violence

38% of all murders of women worldwide are committed by intimate partners

There are an estimated 78,000 rapes in the UK every year

Last year at least 114 UK women were killed through male violence

The number of people convicted of sex offences on children aged under 16 in England and Wales increased by nearly 60% between 2005 and 2010.

But rather than the increasing awareness of the true extent of male violence against and abuse of women and children leading to an increased condemnation of perpetrators and an increased commitment to end gender based violence, the rising voices of the naysayers,  the pointing fingers of the victim-blamers and the deafening silence of those that look the other way seem to me to be getting louder.

Femicide: UK women killed through suspected male violence January – June 2013

52 UK women killed through suspected male violence so far in 2013.  52 women in  181 days, that’s one  woman every 3.48 days.

Janelle Duncan   Bailey 25 02-Jan
Akua Agyueman 23 03-Jan
Anastasia Voykina 23 07-Jan
Myrna Kirby 57 11-Jan
Suzanne Bavette Newton 45 13-Jan
Virginja Jurkiene 49 19-Jan
Chloe Siokos 80 22-Jan
Debbie Levey 44 28-Jan
Sasha Marsden 16 31-Jan
Una Crown 86 31-Jan
Hayley Pointon 30 03-Feb
Pernella Forgie 79 07-Feb
Ganimete Hoti 42 11-Feb
Samantha Medland 24 17-Feb
Alexis Durant 42 20-Feb
Glynis Solmaz 65 20-Feb
Dimitrina Borisova 46 21-Feb
Victoria Rose 58 02-Mar
Chantelle Barnsdale-Quean 35 04-Mar
Susan Cole 54 06-Mar
Christina Edkins 16 06-Mar
Jennifer Rennie 26 11-Mar
Daneshia Arthur 30 18-Mar
Pamela Jackson 55 last seen 20 March
Mary Roberts 50 27-Mar
Janis Dundas 63 05-Apr
Deborah Simister 45 08-Apr
Lisa Clay 41 09-Apr
Mariam   Ali Shaaban Hussain Khesroh 24 11-Apr
Dawn Warburton 40 13-Apr
Naika Inayat 52 17-Apr
Jabeen Younis 32 19-Apr
Irene Dale 78 27-Apr
Heather Arthur 50 29-Apr
Salma Parveen 22 29-Apr
Christine Baker 52 30-Apr
Margaret Knight 77 01-May
Sara Bates 33 04-May
Margaret Mercati 63 15-May
Margery Gilbey 88 24-May
Georgia Williams 17 26-May
Yvonne Walsh 25 02-Jun
Krishnamaya Mabo 39 03-Jun
Myrna Holman 76 03-Jun
Reema Ramzan 18 04-Jun
Katie Jenkin 20 08-Jun
Alice McMeekin 58 08-Jun
Marianne Stones 58 09-Jun
Lilima Akter 27 14-Jun
Zaneta Kindzierska 32 16-Jun
Mushammod Asma Begum 21 20-Jun
Linzi Ashton 25 29-Jun

The Coalition Government and broadening the fight to end violence against women and girls beyond the Criminal Justice System

On the 25 November 2010, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Coalition Government launched the Call to End Violence against Women and Girls, just over six months after it had come in to power. It was followed in March 2011 by an action plan comprising 88 supporting actions for taking the strategy forward. In the foreword, the Home Secretary Theresa May acknowledged:

“The causes and consequences of violence against women and girls are complex. For too long government has focused on violence against women and girls as a criminal justice issue”

and went on to say that prevention would be at the heart of the government’s approach, along with working with families and communities to change attitudes. Lynne Featherstone, then the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities and Criminal Information added that

“This suffering is a form of gender inequality and it is wrong”.

It almost sounds like we have a government that is ready to recognise that violence against women and girls is both a consequence and cause of inequality between women and men. The problem is, despite Theresa May’s assurances, the government seems to be wilfully ignoring many of the ways that they could address violence against women and girls outside the Criminal Justice System.

Starting with the cuts that followed the comprehensive saving review, the austerity package has hit women hardest. Data from the Women’s Budget Group revealed

  • Of the welfare savings (cuts) 74% came from the pockets of women.
  • Two-thirds of those who have lost jobs in councils and schools since May 2010 were women, in 19 English local authorities, 100% of the jobs that were lost were women’s jobs
  • For the first time in decades, the pay gap between women and men has stopped decreasing and started increasing.

The Universal Credit scheme, the government’s next big step in welfare reform, is scheduled to start in October 2013. The government says it’s about fairness, about making work pay and making the welfare system simpler by providing a single monthly payment for those in receipt of benefits. Where a couple are claiming, benefits will paid jointly to just one of them. This is despite the finding, in the British Crime Survey 2004, that 41% of women who’ve experienced domestic force have also suffered financial abuse. Where women are in receipt of benefits and in violent relationships, perpetrators are being mandated to have increased control over finances.

The wider measures to end violence against women and girls outside the Criminal Justice System don’t appear to extend to personal finances.

Lynne Featherstone has spoken about her outrage at the pressure for women to look a certain way; that she can see how body image affects women’s confidence and even goes as far as saying that it can be a kind of violence against women. She went on to say “There’s obviously sometimes a good rationale for plastic surgery. When you’ve had five children and your breasts are hanging round your waist and it’s affecting your life, then I wouldn’t really have a problem with women getting that sorted”. Try as I might, I cannot see how identifying the effects of feeding babies on a woman’s body as a good rationale for surgery are anything other than misogynistic. She has also said of herself, “I have the power of all middle aged women, the power to nag” “I have the powers of high level nagging”.

The wider measures to end violence against women and girls outside the Criminal Justice System don’t appear to extend to addressing the pressure on women to conform to the patriarchal fuckability standard or avoiding descriptions of women’s contribution to politics that conform to negative gender stereotypes.

Nadine Dorries has been busily trying her best to erode abortion rights, to reduce the abortion time limit from 24 to 20 weeks, a measure which is reported to be supported by Theresa May, Maria Miller and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Yet in 2011, 91% of abortions took place before 13 weeks and the number of abortions post-13 weeks has been steadily declining since 2008. There are bigger issues in reproductive health care that need attention, such as reproductive violence, access to contraception and improving access to early abortion.

The wider measures to end violence against women and girls outside the Criminal Justice System don’t appear to extend to considering the impact of reproductive violence or an attack on women’s bodily autonomy.

Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Women and Equalities has recently set out plans for a ‘Guide for Girls’ information pack to help parents bring up ‘aspirational young women’. The aim is to help girls ‘realise their potential’ in response to concerns raised by the Women’s Business Council, including the fact that the number of female chief executives in the FTSE 100 has fallen to just three in the past year.

Miller told the Observer:

“Making sure women can be successful at work and in business is essential if we want a strong economy. Encouraging women to fulfil their potential doesn’t begin when they are already working; it starts when they are young, still at school. A vital part of future career success is the aspirations that girls have early in their lives, and the choices they make about subjects and qualifications.

“Parents are vital in helping girls make these choices, and we know that many parents want help with that. This campaign will give parents the knowledge and confidence they need to make sure that their daughters make choices which will help them realise their ambitions.”

Yet since the Coalition Government came to power, more than 400 Sure Start children’s centres have closed and more than a third (£430m) has been cut from Sure Start government funding between 2010-11 and 2012-13. Sure Start was launched in 1998 with the aim of “giving children the best possible start in life”. In the first year of the Coalition Government an additional 300,000 children were plunged into poverty. The British Crime Survey has identified poverty as a risk factor to some forms or domestic and sexual violence. Poverty is a strong predictor of low educational performance. Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation demonstrated that disadvantaged children are more likely to be reluctant recipients of the taught curriculum, influencing different attitudes to education at primary school that help shape their future and their future aspirations. It may be a cynical position but it does not seem likely that the target audience of Maria Miller’s ‘Guide for Girls’ is parents living in poverty.

The wider measures to end violence against women and girls outside the Criminal Justice System don’t extend to addressing the educational attainment of girls raised in poverty.

Also this month, Labour proposed an amendment to Clause 20 of the Children and Families Bill to make relationships and sex education a mandatory part of the school curriculum. This seems wholly consistent with Theresa May’s stated aim of increasing the focus on prevention and working to change attitudes – for example the attitudes of the 43% of young people who agree that it’s acceptable for a boyfriend to be aggressive under certain circumstances. Yet all but two members of the government, including Theresa May and Lynne Featherstone, voted against the proposal.

The wider measures to end violence against women and girls outside the Criminal Justice System don’t extend to the full potential of the school curriculum to be a force for attitudinal change.

One of the steps that the Coalition Government has introduced to tackle domestic violence is The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, or Clare’s Law, that enables people to ask the police if their partner has a history of domestic violence.

It was created following a campaign by the family of Clare Wood, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend, George Appleton, in 2009. A pilot is currently being run in Greater Manchester, Wiltshire, Nottingham and Gwent. Greater Manchester police revealed that approximately half of the requests they receive result in the disclosure of information whilst Wiltshire police have revealed that they received 10 applications in one week alone. Whilst the principle of allowing women access to information held by the state about violent men is welcome, there remain questions, these include how a woman may be judged in the light of actions that she takes or doesn’t take if she is informed of a man’s violent past. There is a huge potential for shifting the culpability for violence back on to the victim and for agencies to absolve themselves of their responsibility – after all, she knew about him and didn’t leave. There is also the question of whether women will be held responsible for harm that a violent perpetrator does to children, after all – she knew about him and didn’t leave. There is also the matter of access to specialist support which is vital for women, whether or not they find out that a man has a history of violence. Those that are told that there is no history on record have surely asked for information because they have legitimate reason to feel concerned. We know that most domestic violence is not reported. “No history on record” is not the same as “no history” or “no risk”.

Theresa May said at the launch of The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme: “Domestic violence is a dreadful crime which sees two women a week die at the hands of their partners and millions more suffer years of abuse in their own homes. That is why we are constantly looking at new ways of protecting victims.” I welcome this; but what about the full range of wider measures to end violence against women and girls outside the Criminal Justice System?

And what of the specialist services, the ones that support women who have experienced domestic and sexual violence? A Freedom of Information request to 152 local authorities found that of the 101 councils that responded, there had been cuts of £5.6m to services including refuges, domestic violence advocates, victim support centres and centres for women who have been raped or sexually assaulted between 2009/10 and 2012/13. Remaining services are increasingly subject to competitive tendering, with contracts frequently awarded to organisations that are not specialists, that are not run from woman centered perspectives but that are chasing business and able to make low-cost bids.

The wider measures to end violence against women and girls outside the Criminal Justice System don’t extend to maintaining and extending specialist service provision. Until we see effective steps being taken that actually do result in a decrease in male violence against women and girls, cuts to services speak louder than empty promises.

The Home Secretary was right, for too long successive governments have focused on violence against women and girls as a criminal justice issue if they have focused on it at all. However, if the Coalition knows that a wider approach is needed, its actions and inactions belie that commitment. When we have a Prime Minster who resorts to sexist put-downs of women MPs, when there are only five women but nine Oxford alumni in the coalition cabinet, when the Deputy Prime Minister cannot bring himself to condemn a rich and powerful man putting his hands around a woman’s throat because it might have been “just a fleeting thing”, the government is undermining and contradicting the fine promises of its strategy to end male violence against women and girls.  Male violence against women and girls is a cause and consequence of structural inequality between women and men, and until a government seriously approaches the issue from that perspective, women and girls will continue to be beaten, raped, assaulted, abused, controlled and killed by men.

This post is an updated version of a piece that appeared on the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association blog. My thanks to FWSA for inviting me to write for them. http://fwsablog.org.uk/2013/06/19/the-coalition-government-and-broadening-the-fight-to-end-violence-against-women-and-girls-beyond-the-criminal-justice-system/

UK women killed through suspected male violence January – May 2013

41 UK women killed through suspected male violence in 2013.  41 women in  150 days, that’s one  woman every 3.66 days

Janelle Duncan   Bailey 25 02-Jan
Akua Agyueman 23 03-Jan
Anastasia Voykina 23 07-Jan
Myrna Kirby 57 11-Jan
Suzanne Bavette Newton 45 13-Jan
Virginja Jurkiene 49 19-Jan
Chloe Siokos 80 22-Jan
Debbie Levey 44 28-Jan
Sasha Marsden  16 31-Jan
Una Crown 86 31-Jan
Hayley Pointon  30 03-Feb
Pernella Forgie 79 07-Feb
Ganimete Hoti 42 11-Feb
Samantha Medland 24 17-Feb
Alexis Durant  42 20-Feb
Glynis Solmaz 65 20-Feb
Dimitrina Borisova 46 21-Feb
Victoria Rose 58 02-Mar
Chantelle Barnsdale-Quean 35 04-Mar
Susan Cole  54 06-Mar
Christina Edkins 16 06-Mar
Jennifer Rennie 26 11-Mar
Daneshia Arthur 30 18-Mar
Pamela Jackson 55 last seen 20 March
Mary Roberts  50 27-Mar
Janis Dundas 63 05-Apr
Deborah Simister 45 08-Apr
Lisa Clay 41 09-Apr
Mariam Ali Shaaban Hussain   Khesroh 24 11-Apr
Dawn Warburton 40 13-Apr
Naika Inayat 52 17-Apr
Jabeen Younis 32 19-Apr
Irene Dale 78 27-Apr
Heather Arthur 50 29-Apr
Salma Parveen 22 29-Apr
Christine Baker 52 30-Apr
Margaret Knight 77 01-May
Sara Bates 33 04-May
Margaret Mercati 63 15-May
Margery Gilbey 88 24-May
Georgia Williams 17 26-May

Extremism: race, racism, religion, sex, power.

Within minutes of the breaking news of the violent murder of Lee Rigby, his death was being linked to Islamic extremism and terrorism. On the same day as his death, members of The English Defence League were involved in violent clashes with police in Woolwich, their Leader Tommy Robinson stating “This issue is political Islam,” adding, “It’s political Islam that’s spreading across this country.” By Friday, the British National Party leader, Nick Griffin, had also visited and had tweeted that the alleged killers should be wrapped in “pig skin” and shot again. Four days after Lee Rigby’s murder, a so called copy-cat crime in France was reported on at least one national radio station, using this incident to illustrate the problem of Islamic extremism as an international one. Radical-Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary, a man only likely to intensify anger and hatred, was given a platform by both the BBC and Channel 4. 48 hours after Lee Rigby’s death, Islamophobic hate crimes were running at 10 times their usual rate.

Also in the news this week, were the arrests of eight people, six men and two women, by police investigating an arson attack in Huddersfield in 2002. The fire killed eight, two women, one young man and five girls, three others, two women and one man managed to escape. Three young men were arrested shortly after the incident, one charged with murder and two with manslaughter. A fourth was arrested and ran away whilst on bail, he still has not been caught. Petrol was poured through the letter box, the house had been destroyed by the time fire engines had arrived, just four minutes after neighbours had called them upon hearing the windows smash as petrol-bombs were thrown into the house. That seven of the eight victims were women or girls and the four held responsible all young men seems to have evaded anyone’s notice. I wish I could believe that the omission of mention of the race of both victims and perpetrators meant that this was not seen as important, that it was a reflection of a society where people are valued equally, but I don’t. Every report has included the names of the dead, those who escaped and those charged. All but one of them, their visiting grandmother, were born and grew up in Huddersfield. Their names tell us that they were of south Asian descent. I wish I didn’t cringe at the photo and description of the ‘modest house’ in which 11 people were sleeping, believing this innocuous-sounding phrase, to be a judgment; and like the list of names, to be a statement of ‘other’.

It’s days since Lee Rigby was killed, there has been much discussion about the causes of extremism yet the issue of gender has been all-but ignored despite the glaring over representation of men, whether radical-Muslim, EDL or BNP. According to the Tell MAMA (Measuring anti-Muslim attacks) project, (in data collated before Lee Rigby’s death) 58% of anti-Muslim attacks reported to them are against women and girls with a 2:1 ratio of women victims in Islamic clothing compared to men in Islamic clothing, 75% of perpetrators are male and 54% of all cases are linked to supporters of the EDL and BNP. The gender patterns are clear – and predicable – to anyone who cares to look for them.

The heads of nearly 100 mosques have signed an open letter in which they describe the “absolute horror” that they share with the rest of British society at the crime committed “in the name of our religion”. Similarly, every EDL march is met with opposition, from both anti-fascist groups and members of local communities who want to make it known that the hatred and rhetoric of the EDL is not in their name.

So far this year, I’ve counted 39 UK women killed through suspected male violence. But the only voices linking these crimes are feminist ones. Mainstream media steadfastly refuses to make connections between sexism, misogyny, domestic and sexual violence and killing women. Identifying trends and making links is important, it helps us to identify causes and therefore – where there is the will – the potential to find solutions and create change. Why hasn’t a COBRA meeting been called to look at fatal male violence against women? Immediately when race or religion is a factor in violence, it is identified, named and often met with retaliation. Why isn’t it the same with sexist and misogynistic murder? The murder of Lee Rigby was abhorrent, but any murder is abhorrent. There should be no hierarchy. Could it be that it is only when the primary aggressors are those acting against, not reinforcing the dominant ideology, that the majority make links?

1 Tayyaba Batool, 13, Rabiah Batool, 10, Ateeqa Nawaz, 6, Aneesa Nawaz, 2, Najeeba Nawaz, 6 months, their mother Nafeesa Aziz, 35, and their uncle Mohammed ateeq-ur-Rehman, 18, their grandmother, Zaib-un-Nisa, 54.