Counting Dead Women – and counting people who identify as transgender

I’ve been challenged both for not including trans-identified males in my work on Counting Dead Women and for commemorating males who identify as transgender from Counting Dead Women on Trans Day of Remembrance.

This is a brief summary of my position so that I can refer people to it rather than rehash the same thing or ignore them.

Since I started @CountDeadWomen in January 2012, I’ve recorded the names of 1,063 UK women killed by men:

  • 2012 -141 women
  • 2013 -151 women
  • 2014 -156 women
  • 2015 -138 women
  • 2016 – 125 women
  • 2017 – 147 women
  • 2018 – 146 women
  • 2019 – at least 59 women up to 21 July

I haven’t tweeted then all from @CountDeadWomen because I didn’t plan this as a campaign, it evolved naturally.

On the 20th November- Trans Day of Remembrance 2018, I tweeted to commemorate a trans-identified male,  Naomi Hersi. According to some, this makes me a sell-out.

I do not believe that ‘transwomen’ are women but I have no problem whatsoever recognising the humanity of people who identify as transgender. I have no problem acknowledging the humanity of all males. I observe the  minute’s silence on Armistice Day in memory of all victims of all wars.

I recognise that many people who identify as transgender are subjected to violence, abuse, discrimination and even death because they adopt so-called gender norms that are not those stereotypically associated with their sex. I think this is deplorable. I do not believe people can change sex and I think ‘gender’ functions to maintain male supremacy and female subordination.

I can and do recognise that many males who identify as transgender are killed in circumstances related to prostitution and drug use, situations that some would call ‘high risk’. I do not see that as a reason to excuse those murders any more than I think involvement in prostitution and/or drugs is an excuse for killing women.

There is an international Trans Day of Remembrance.  I am happy to acknowledge this day.  There is no equivalence for the far greater numbers of women who are killed by men, killed in most cases because they are women. I think this reflects the subordination of women and the acceptance and normalisation of men’s violence against women as natural and inevitable. I believe it is neither. Counting Dead Women is a way I have chosen to address this for myself.

I believe 7 males who identify as transgender have been killed in the the UK since 2012, that is 7 people too many and 7 people who are missed and mourned by those who loved them. I have not included them in Counting Dead Women and I don’t plan to do so in the future.  As I stated above, more than 1,063 women have been killed by men in the same period.  That is more than 1,063 women who are missed and mourned by those who loved them.

I firmly believe in our right to women-only spaces, services and organising. I believe in  that women who have been subjected to men’s violence are best served by specialist independent women-only organisations running women-only services.

I have worked in services supporting women who have been subjected to sexual and domestic violence, exploited in prostitution and/or experiencing homelessness all my adult life, for 29 years. Last year, nia, the charity where I work gave face-to-face support to over 1,500 women and girls and, where our contracts require it, a small handful of males, some of whom identify as transgender. All people we support are treated with respect and dignity.

If  you think acknowledging the murder of Naomi Hersi makes me a sell-out, so be it. You do your thing, I’ll do mine. If you think I’m denying the humanity of people who identify as transgender by not including males in Counting Dead Women, so be it. You do your thing,  I’ll do mine

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The Sexualisation of Children and Sex Trade in Children Is a Massive Global Harm and Men Don’t like Women to Say it

On 6 June, scrolling through twitter, I came across the news that Munroe Bergdorf had been chosen to be an ‘influencer’ for the child protection and safeguarding charity, the NSPCC.  This struck me as somewhat surprising. Like many child safeguarding charities, the NSPCC has rightly acknowledged the sexualisation of children as being both directly and indirectly harmful to children’s wellbeing; and surely recognises valuing people based on their appearance, is not something that those with an interest in children’s mental health would encourage.  My limited knowledge of Bergdorf, is of someone who trades on their appearance, often highly sexualised and who is ‘famous for being famous’.   So, I googled ‘NSPCC child sexualisation’ and came across guidance that they had published in February this year on protecting children from harmful sexual behaviour, and then googling Bergdorf and one of the first images I found was them  sitting on a tyre, legs akimbo,  mouth agape, naked except for yellow tape with matching gloves and boots.

My concerns about this apparent contradiction confirmed, I juxtaposed an image of a screenshot of the NSPCC document next to the image of Bergdorf and tweeted the following comment:

“February 2019  – NSPCC: Here’s our guidance on protecting children from harmful sexual behaviour

May 2019 – @NSPCC: Heeyyy, meet our new ‘influencer’ Munroe Bergdorf”

Bergorf tweet

I assumed that people would read the image as illustrating what I saw as the contradictory positions of the two statements.  Neither were screen caps  (as far as I’m aware) directly from NSPCC publicity and I did not intend to imply that they were. However, one or two people interpreted the tweet in that way and seemed to think that the NSPCC had used the image, so I deleted it.

A couple of days later, someone brought to my attention that Bergdorf had commented on the tweet on Instagram.  Since then, the issue and tweet has attracted attention and rather than continue to repeat myself on twitter, I’ve decided to summarise some of my responses to issues raised here:

1) The suggestion (from Bergdorf) that the shot is no more risky than  anything shot by Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Rihanna, Britney or Madonna – and no one’s trying to stop them working  to empower younger generation

I agree. However, these women are world famous because of a perceived musical or performing talent – not just for being photographed. I apologised to Bergdorf if my lack of knowledge of what’s going down musically with young people meant I was missing their world famous musical back catalogue.  It’s also true that I wish that women’s musical output didn’t need to be illustrated with sexualised imagery –  what’s wrong with a nice pair of dungarees and a cardigan?

2) The accusation that I hadn’t complained about other people associated with NSPCC who had been photographed in various states of undress  and therefore I’m a bigoted cishet transphobic white definitely-not-feminist

It’s true that I haven’t, but that doesn’t mean that I think these women have anything more to offer than Bergdorf and I would probably find some of the images of them equally objectionable – but they weren’t the ones I saw being announced on twitter. It’s a common logical fallacy, sometimes known as ‘whatabouterry’ to suggest that because a person makes a comment in response to a specific issue, their response to a similar issue would be different.

To be clear, I don’t think images of any woman airbrushed within an inch of Barbie are those which should confront children and Berdorf’s so-called ‘gender identity’ is of no interest  or relevance in this respect.

I’m happy to admit that I want a world where children aspire to be more than what they look like. I want role models who offer this.

I don’t want people to stop supporting the NSPCC. I do want the NSPCC to have the broadest understanding of the harms to children, and these include sexualisation and sex role stereotypes., and that gender is a hierarchy with women and girls at the bottom.

3) The accusation that I’m anti-LGBT

I’m not. To suggest otherwise ignores the concerns that many, including lesbians and gay men, have identified regarding the homophobia inherent in  transgender ideology, and the increasing abuse of lesbians who defend the boundaries of same-sex attraction. On the other-hand, Bergdorf has made some reprehensible comments about lesbians.

4) The suggestion that I have said that “women – particularly queer and trans women – who have engaged in any kind of sexual or pornographic work are a danger to children.”

I haven’t said this and to state that I have is libellous.

However, the sexualisation of children is a huge and harmful global problem. It is not only absurd to obfuscate the harms to children – by males – through pornography and the sex trade, it is grossly irresponsible.  Men  pay to rape children and  get their sexual kicks from watching images of child sexual abuse. The sexualisation of children normalises child sex abuse. This indeed is a danger to children.

5) The accusation that the image I used was ‘doctored’

It wasn’t, it was two images juxtaposed, to illustrate a contradiction.  There’s an irony though, isn’t there? As one might struggle to find an image of Bergdorf that isn’t doctored.

After reflecting on the silencing of women, feminists in particular, I’ve regretted deleting my tweet but I also acknowledge that some people really might mis-read the image so I’ve shared it again here, with a few words of explanation.

Accusations of transphobia are used to silence women, whether we’re objecting to the sexualisation of children, men’s fatal violence against women  or men’s attempts to coerce/ force  lesbians to have sex with them.  Twitter and other social media platforms are actively silencing feminists and now gay men too.  It isn’t going to work. If you try to silence some of us, others will ensure that their voices are heard and add their own.  We will identify, name and resist the sexual exploitation of women and children.  We will fight to maintain sex based rights and protections. You can bully, threaten and assault us. We are not going away. You will not shut us up.

2019

47 women

At least 75 UK women have been killed by men (or where a man is the principal suspect):

  1. 1 January 2019: Charlotte Huggins, 33 was stabbed in the early hours of New Year’s Day. Michael Rolle has been charged with her murder.
  2. 1 January 2019: Jay Edmunds, 27, was killed in a house fire which killed three people. Police have said that had he been alive, Ashley Martin, 32, who died in the same fire would have been treated as a suspect for the murder of the two other people.
  3. 4 January 2019: Simbiso Aretha Moula, 39, was found dead with her husband Garikayi Moula, 51. Police believe she was strangled by him after which he hanged himself.
  4. 5 January 2019: Sarah Ashraf, 35, was found dead at home. Her brother, Khalid Ashraf, 32, has been charged with her murder.
  5. 11 January 2019: Asma Begum, 31, died of a neck injury. Jalal Uddin, 46, has been charged with her murder.
  6. 12 January 2019: Luz Margory Isaza Villegas, 50, was last seen alive. Her body was found a week later. Her husband Rodrigo Tascon, 55, has been charged with murder and preventing a proper burial.
  7. 14 January 2019: Leanne Unsworth, 40, died of head injuries. Shaun Sanders, 39, has been charged with her murder.
  8. 15 January 2019: Christy Walshe, 40, was shot in the face. Michael Strudwick, 33, has been charged with her murder and possession of a firearm.
  9. 16 January 2019: Alison Hunt, 42, was stabbed to death. Vernon Holmes, 47, has been charged with her murder.
  10. 22 January 2019: Mary Annie Sowerby, 69, known as Annie, was found seriously injured and died from her injuries. Her son, Lee Sowerby, 40, has been charged with her murder.
  11. 27 January 2019: Margaret Smyth, 29, known as Maggie, was missing for six days before police found her body. A 39-year old man has been charged with her murder.
  12. 1 February 2019: Mary Page, 68, was found dead at home with a head injury. Her son, Mathew Page, 40, has been charged with her murder.
  13. 1-2 February 2019: Antoinette Donnegan, 52, was found strangled on 7 March but it is believed she was killed 5 weeks before. A post-mortem found she had seven broken ribs, a deep gash to her head, and had been strangled by clothing. Kristian Smith, 41, has been charged with her murder.
  14. 7 February 2019: Rosie Derbyshire, 27, died from serious head injuries. Benjamin Topping, 25, said to be her boyfriend, has been charged with her murder.
  15. 8 February 2019: Aliny Mendes, 39, was stabbed to death. Her estranged husband, Ricardo Godinho, 41, has been charged with her murder.
  16. 11 February 2019: Sarah Henshaw, 40, was found dead in Leeds. Shortly afterward, a man reportedly fell from a bridge and was being treated in hospital prior to being questioned in relation to her death.
  17. 14 February 2019: Dorothy Bowyer, 77, was found dead. William Blundson, 23, has been charged with her murder and criminal damage.
  18. 15 February 2019: A 73-year old woman who has not yet been named died 11 days after being mugged. Marius Lucian, 21 and a 15-year-old boy who cannot be named for legal reasons have been charged with two counts of robbery, assault with intent to commit robbery and manslaughter. Two other women were also attacked.
  19. 25 February 2019: Jodi Miller, 21, was found with serious injuries and died after being taken to hospital. Kahar Ali, 29, has been charged with her murder.
  20. 1 March 2019: Jodie Chesney, 17, was stabbed in the back whilst walking through a park with friends. Manuel Petrovic, 20, has been charged with murder.
  21. 2 March 2019: Elize Stevens, 50, was stabbed to death. Ian Levy, 54, has been charged in relation to her death.
  22. 6 March 2019: Laureline Garcia-Bertaux, 34, was found in a shallow grave in her garden in west London. She had been strangled. Her ex-boyfriend Kirill Belorusov, 32, was arrested in Estonia on 13 March and was being held in by police before extradition proceedings are completed.
  23. 7 March 2019: Giselle Marimon-Herrera, 37 and her 15-year-old daughter Allison, were found dead. Police have said that Allison was strangled and there was a “strong possibility” her mother had died in the same way. Russell Steele, 38, said to be Giselle’s partner is believed to killed them before hanging himself.
  24. 7 March 2019: (see above) Allison Marimon-Herrera, 15 and her 37-year-old mother, Giselle, were found dead. Police have said that Allison was strangled and there was a “strong possibility” her mother had died in the same way. Russell Steele, 38, said to be Giselle’s partner is believed to killed them before hanging himself.
  25. 9 March 2019: Lalal Kamara, 26, was found dead in a flat in Denton, Greater Manchester. Mustapha Dia, 21, has been charged with her murder.
  26. 10 March 2019: Alice Morrow, 53, was found dead following an assault. William Hutchinson, 42, has been charged with her murder.
  27. 17 March 2019: Rachel Evans, 46, was found dead. Carl Harrison, 42, pleaded guilty to her murder, assault by beating and making threats to kill.
  28. 20 March 2019: Alison McKenzie, 55, was found dead. Ian McKenzie, 34, who is said to be her son, has been charged with her murder.
  29. 27 March 2019: Barbara Heywood, 80, was stabbed to death. An 88-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of her murder and later detained under the Mental Health Act.
  30. 2 April 2019: Paula Meadows, 83, was found dead at home. Her 84-year-old husband, Tony Meadows is believed to have killed her before killing himself.
  31. 9 April 2019: Anna Reed, 22, from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, was found dead in Switzerland, A most mortem revealed that she died from asphyxiation and had small fractures and cuts on her body. Swiss police have reported that her boyfriend Marc Schatzle, 29, has been formally accused of intentional murder.
  32. 17 April 2019: Sarah Fuller, 35, was found dead by police, she had been strangled. Her partner Jason Carr, 35, has been charged with her murder.
  33. 20 April 2019: Megan Newton, 18, was found dead. Joseph Trevor, 18, has been charged with her murder.
  34. 21 April 2019: Leah Fray, 27, was found dead in a burning flat. Curtis Moyse, 18, has been charged with murder, rape and arson.
  35. 23 April 2019: Siama Riaz, 33, was found dead after police were called to attend to a stabbing. Mohammed Choudhry, 36, has been charged with murder.
  36. 23 April 2019: Sammy-Lee Lodwig, 22, was found stabbed to death at home. Jason Farrell, 49, has been charged with her murder.
  37. 26 April 2019: Amy Parsons, 35, was found dead. Her partner, Roderick Deakin-White, 37,has been charged with her murder.
  38. 29 April 2019: Emma Faulds, 39, was last seen alive. Ross Willox, 40, was charged with her murder on 10 May. Her body was found on 12 June.
  39. 3 May 2019: Ellie Gould, 17, was found dead. A 17-year-old male has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody.
  40. 6 May 219: Joanne Hamer, 48, was found dead at home when police attended due to fears for her safety. Her husband Ian Hamer, 53, has been charged with her murder.
  41. 10 May 2019: Mavis Long, 77, was found dead at home. Her husband Frank Long, 80, has been charged with her murder.
  42. 12 May 2019: Julia Rawson, 42, was last seen alive. Nathan Maynard-Ellis, 28, and David Leesley, 23 have been charged in relation to her murder.
  43. 20 May 2019: Tatiana Koudriavtsev, 68 and 69-year-old husband were found dead. Their son Sergey Koudriavtsev, 48, has been charged with their murders.
  44. 24 May 2019: Jayde Hall, 26, was stabbed to death. 46-year-old Carl Scott was charged with her murder.
  45. 27 May 2019: Elizabeth McShane, 39, was found dead with her partner Hugh Sinclair, 33. Police are treating their deaths as murder-suicide.
  46. 29 May 2019: Linda Treeby, 64, was found with serious injuries after emergency services were called but died shortly afterwards. Her partner Andrew Highton, 50, has been charged with her murder.
  47. 5 June 2019: Regan Tierney, 27, was found stabbed to death. Her ex-partner, Daniel Patten, 31, who is suspected of having killed her died in hospital.
  48. 9 June 2018: Neomi Smith, 23, was stabbed to death in the street. Keith Rizzo, 23, has been charged with her murder.
  49. 17 June 2019: Safie Xheta, 35, was killed by knife wounds to the neck. Her husband Fatos Xheta, 45, was treated for injuries and later charged with her murder.
  50. 20 June 2019: Valerie Richardson, 49, was violently killed in her home by Ross Thom, 39, who then killed himself.
  51. 24 June 2018: Lucy Rushton, 30, was found with multiple injuries on 23 June and died the following day. Shaun Dyson, 28, has been charged with her murder.
  52. 29 June 2019: Kelly Fauvrelle, 26, was stabbed at home in an attack that also killed her unborn baby. Aaron McKenzie, 25, has been charged in relation to their deaths.
  53. 1 July 2019: Joanna Thompson, 50, died after suffering neck injuries at her home, a teenage male was arrested and later detained under the Mental Health Act.
  54. 2 July 2019: Ligita Kostiajeviene, 42, died of severe head injuries following an armed siege at a house in Peterborough. Another woman and a child were injured in the attack. Andriejus Kostiajevas, 46, has been charged with murder, attempted murder, assault causing grievous bodily harm and assault on an emergency worker.
  55. 11 July 2019: Carol Milne, 59, was found dead in her home in Aberdeen. Her 24-year-old son has been charged in relation to her death.
  56. 11 July 2019: Lesley Pearson, 74, was last seen alive. She was found dead in a shallow grave near her home in Spain on 22 July. Handyman/gardener Francisco Becerra, 45 has been charged with her murder.
  57. 12 July 2019: Layla Arezo, 74, and her husband Akbar Arezo, 64, were stabbed to death. Their son Mustafa Arezo, 31, has been charged with their murders.
  58. 15 July 2019: Doreen Virgo, 89, was found dead in a carehome, she died of compression to the neck. Her husband Michael Virgo, 81, has been charged in relation to her death.
  59. 18 July 2019: Diane Dyer, 61, died of blunt force injury to the neck and face. David McCorkell, 54, has been charged with her murder.
  60. 21 July 2019: Kayleigh Hanks, 29, was strangled to death in her home. Ian Paton, 36, has been charged with her murder.
  61. 3 August 2019: Dorothy Woolmer, 89, was raped and murdered, she died of multiple blunt force injuries. Reece Dempster, 22, has been charged with murder, rape, burglary, and two counts of sexual assault.
  62. 6 August 2019: Natalie Critchlow, 44, died in Barbados after being doused in a flammable liquid and set alight while in bed.
  63. 5 August 2019: Dr Leela (Premm) Monti, 51, and her partner Robert Tully, 71, were found dead. Her son, Andrei-Mihai Simion Muntean, 22, has been charged in relation to the deaths.
  64. 12 August 2019: Lindsey Birbeck, 47, was last seen alive. She was found dead in a graveyard on 22 August, she had been strangled. A 16-year-old male has been charged in relation to her death.
  65. 17 August 2019: Belinda Rose, 63, was stabbed to death. Inderjit Ram, 52, has been charged with her murder.
  66. 17 August 2019: Pamela Mellor, 55, was found dead. Mathew Bolland, 43, has been charged with her murder.
  67. 19 August 2019: Linda Vilika, 41, was stabbed to death. Wilfred Jacob, 42, has been charged with her murder.
  68. 25 August 2019: Michelle Pearson, 36, died of injuries from an arson attack in December 2017 which had killed four of her children. Zak Bolland and David Worral had previously been found guilty of charges in relation to the offence.
  69. 26 August 2019: Rebecca Simpson, 30, died in hospital after being found with serious head injuries. Ricky Knott, 32, has been charged with her murder.
  70. 29 August 2019: Alice Farquharson, 56, was found dead at home. Her husband, Keith Farquharson, 60, has been charged In relation to her death.
  71. 29 August 2019: Laura Rakstelyte, 31, was found dead in a garden in London with serious chest and neck injuries. Rahul Malhi, 43, was found dead inside the house. Police are not looking for anyone else.
  72. 31 August 2019: Sandra Samuels, 44, was found dead in Hackney, London. Gavin Lewis, 40, has been charged with her murder.
  73.  6 September 2019: Marlene McCabe, 71, was found dead with head and facial injuries. 25-year-old Conor Clarkson, has been charged with her murder.
  74.  11 September 2019: Lana Nemceva, 33, was found dead with her husband Kirils Nemcevs, 31. Police are treating her death as murder and his as suicide.
  75.  12 September 2019: Bethany Fields, 21, was killed in the street, witnesses say she was stabbed. Paul Crowther, 5, has been charged with her murder. 

    Waiting for further information regarding the deaths of Ruth Greenhough, Alim Shimeni, Annabelle Lancaster, Debbie Twist,  Lauren Griffiths, Gemma Palmer, Lucy Wright, Tracy Bailey.

    1. 6 September 2019: Marlene McCabe, 71, was found dead with head and facial injuries. 25-year-old Conor Clarkson, has been charged with her murder.
    2. 11 September 2019: Lana Nemceva, 33, was found dead with her husband Kirils Nemcevs, 31. Police are treating her death as murder and his as suicide.
    3. 12 September 2019: Bethany Fields, 21, was killed in the street, witnesses say she was stabbed. Paul Crowther, 5, has been charged with her murder.
  76. Waiting for further information regarding the deaths of Ruth Greenhough, Alim Shimeni, Annabelle Lancaster, Debbie Twist,  Lauren Griffiths, Gemma Palmer, Lucy Wright, Tracy Bailey.
  77. 31 August 2019: Sandra Samuels, 44, was found dead in Hackey, London. Gavin Lewis, 40, has been charged with her murder.

Waiting for further information regarding the deaths of Ruth Greenhough, Alem Shimeni, Susan Waring, Janet Hoskins, Gemma Palmer, Annabelle Lancaster, Debbie Twist, Lauren Griffiths and Amanda Gretton.

Last updated 6 September 2019

Amnesty International and the Gender Recognition Act consultation

Amnesty International are peddling distortions about trans homicides to push a trans activist agenda regarding the Gender Recognition Act consultation. They said:

“Trans women are suffering violence and abuse because they are trans. Over a quarter of trans people experience domestic violence and two women a week are killed by a partner in England and Wales.

So let’s look at homicide and sex differences, and homicide and trans people:

In the year ending March 2017 there were 613 recorded homicide victims and 617 recorded homicide suspects. The numbers aren’t exactly the same because sometimes there is more than one suspect and sometimes there are none.

  • There were 433 male homicide victims and and 469 male suspects. That means
    • 71% of victims were male
    • 76 % of perpetrators were male
    • There were 8% more male perpetrators than victims
  • There were 180 female victims and 148 female perpetrators
    • 29% of victims were female
    • 24% of perpetrators were female
    • There were 18% fewer female perpetrators than victims
  • 50% of female victims aged 16+ were killed by a current or former partner (sex of perpetrator not specified)
  • 3 % of male victims aged 16+ were killed by a current or former partner (sex of perpetrator not specified)

Trans people:

Women are perpetrators of homicide at 18% lower rates than we are victims. Males are perpetrators of homicide at 8% greater rates than they are victims. Trans people are perpetrators of homicide at 71% greater rates than they are victims.

One woman has been killed at the hands of a man every 2.6 days in the UK since 2012. Why isn’t Amnesty International pushing the concerns of female victims of homicide in relation to proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act? Facts matter. Social policy should be based on factual information not twisted and distorted disinformation.

Why is Amnesty International appropriating commonly used (but not particularly accurate) data about female victims of intimate partner homicide to pursue a trans activist agenda?

*Usual disclaimer: Every victim of homicide is a victim. I do not celebrate a single homicide. My sympathies to the loved ones of every victim. I support universal human rights. I am a feminist with a particular interest in the wellbeing of female victims of men’s violence.

Our fore-sisters built a movement to support women subjected to men’s violence

Ribbons on columns

This was the speech I gave in a pub at Women’s Place’s Leeds meeting on 28 September 2018. A speech that Judith Blake, the first woman Leader of Leeds City Council, prevented me from delivering  at the Civic Hall by cancelling the Woman’s Place booking.

Panel

I’ve worked in services for women who have been subjected to men’s violence for 29 years. I’m currently Chief Executive of a charity called nia –  nia started as Hackney Women’s Aid in 1975 – we’re based in East London and provide services to women, girls and children who have been subjected to sexual and domestic violence –  men’s violence.   Our services include community based domestic violence services, East London Rape Crisis, a specialist refuge for women with problematic substance use and one for women fleeing sexual exploitation – prostitution, trafficking, grooming.  That refuge is called Daria House, named after Daria Pionko, who was murdered, here in Leeds, in the so-called safe prostitution managed zone. Prostitution can never be safe.

Of course we would always work with a woman subjected to violence by a female perpetrator – but we’re talking a tiny number of cases a year, whereas every year we work face-to-face  with at least 1,500 women and girls who have been subjected to men’s violence and support many more over the phone or electronically.

In addition to my day job, I run the project Counting Dead Women – commemorating women killed by men in the UK and I’m co-founder of the Femicide Census in partnership with Women’s Aid.

I started Counting Dead Women  almost 7 years ago after the murder – on January 2 2012 – of a young woman in East London. Her name was Kirsty, she was 20 years old. Kirsty had been referred to nia a few weeks before she was killed.  When I heard about her death, I was on annual leave at the time, I  did what I think many of us here would do in similar circumstances, I took to the internet to find out more.  Even though I’ve been working in the field of women affected by men’s violence for years, and Kirsty wasn’t the first woman connected to places where I’d worked who had been killed,  I was perplexed by what I found, because there seemed to be report after report of women who’d been killed by men in week or so since Christmas,  just so many.  I made a note of their names because I wanted to figure out just how many women it was. It turned out that in the first three days of 2012 in the UK, eight women had been killed by men : three days, eight dead women: three shot, one stabbed,  one strangled with a dog lead, one battered with a blunt object before she was smothered with a pillow, 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.

Since then, I’ve counted and named 955 women killed by men in the UK – that’s an average of one woman dead at the hands of a man every 2.5 days.   I have read and absorbed the detail of each and every one of these killings of women by men. I have tried to learn something about the life and death of each woman.

I grew up in Huddersfield in the 70s and 80s. That meant growing up under the shadow of Peter Sutcliffe. I was 7 when he killed 28 year-old Wilma McCann (as far as we know, his first murder victim) 12 when he killed his last. He was charged  in 1981 – when I was a few weeks shy of 13 – for murdering 13 women in less than 6 years.  It’s no exaggeration to say that his violence was a formative influence. And the man I thought was my dad was violent and abusive to my mum and us kids, and there was violence and abuse in some of my friends’ early relationships too.

Men’s violence against women has been part of my life in one way or another for longer than I can remember – but  I have a nice home, a partner who I love and who loves me, a good job. I know I am fortunate.  Tonight,  I want to talk to you about why I think women only spaces and services are essential for women and children who have been subjected to men’s violence, women who don’t benefit from the safety and security  that I enjoy. Transgender ideology  creates an environment that is hostile to specialist single-sex services for women who have been subjected to men’s violence and one in which women cannot set our own boundaries.

__________________

87% of rapes of adults are committed against women and women are the victim in 80% of domestic homicides.

Males on the other hand

  • Males commit 78% of violent crimes recorded in England and Wales.
  • Males commit 88% of intimate partner homicides
  • Males commit 90% of all murders in England and Wales.
  • Males commit 98% of recorded sexual offences

One of the most important ways that we can contribute to creating a safe spacefor women who have experienced mens violence ……. Is quite simply by keeping men out – it’s simple probability  statistics. Men are for more likely to commit violence than women.

I’m not naive or dishonest enough to claim that women are never violent – of course some women are.  But when women are violent  – and remember its statistically way less frequent – when they are they are –  they generally cause less harm than violent men.

So let’s move on to look at males who identify as trans

There is no credible evidence suggesting that males who identify as trans commit violence against women at lower rates than those who do not.  In fact, evidence suggests that trans identified males commit violent crimes at rates comparable to men.  I’m not saying that men who identify as transgender are inherently violent or that all trans identified males are violent – just that they are no less violent that other males.

Despite claims to the contrary, Gender Recognition Certificates  and/or identification as trans does not reduce men’s violence.  They don’t magic away male socialisation. Self –declaration, even worse, would mean that any man who says he is a woman would be able to access specialist services for women subjected to men’s violence,  unless those services understand how to and have the guts to apply Equality Act Exemptions – and there is serious pressure which prevents many, if not most, from doing this.

Some say that ‘we’ – those of us working is specialist women’s services – can use risk assessments to assess whether a male who says he is trans poses a risk to women.

Let’s look at this in relation to women’s refuges:

When a risk assessment is completed with a woman looking to move in to a refuge, time is critical, you need to help her to get to a place of safety and quickly.  She’s either already left her home or is planning to do so urgently because she is in danger.  With risk assessment, you’re assessing the risk she is facing from her partner, planning how she can reduce risks associated with actually leaving,  whether the location of the refuge offers safety and whether she herself would pose a risk to others living in the refuge. Not whether or not she is actually a violent male.

If you expect refuges to accommodate males who identify as trans, you’re asking staff in women’s refuges to differentiate between

  • Transgender people born male who have genuinely experienced men’s violence and have managed to unpick their male socialisation and who will not use their sense of male entitlement  or sexism or misogyny to harm, reduce and control women in the refuge and
  • those transgender people born male who have genuinely experienced violence but are still dripping in male privilege and advantage and who hate or resent women; and
  • those transgender people born male who are narcissistic perpetrators  who have managed to convince themselves (and others) that they are victims
  • those transgender people born male who are fetishists and
  • men who are pretending to be trans in order to track down a particular woman or access women in general

Why should we be put in this position? Why should women and children who have experienced men’s violence be put in that position? Why is prioritising the needs of women who have been subjected to men’s violence a problem?

Refuges and other specialist women’s services as women-only spaces,  offer not only  a physical, but also a psychological and emotional escape from men’s domination, control and violence:

  • Away from the specific man that they are escaping or who has violated them
  • Away from men in general
  • Away from men’s control and demands for attention
  • Away from the male gaze and their judgement of women
  • A space where women share in common experiences of abuse – despite all the other differences between us

Women tell us that they want and value women-only space for safety, empathy, trust, comfort, a focus on women’s needs, expertise, confidence, and because they’re  less intimidating. Women say that a women only space has been an essential part of their recovery from men’s violence and that that being with women who have had similar experiences is a vital part of accepting that they are not to blame.

At least 80%  of males who identify as trans retain a penis. Do adult penises belong on women’s refuges and Rape Crisis centres? Do adult penises belong in women’s prisons? Most women in prison have been victims of crimes far more serious than those for which they were convicted and the majority have been subjected to men’s violence.

Many of the women and children we work with are terrified of males.  They will – like most of us – almost always instantly read someone who might be the most kind and gentle trans identified male in the world – as male – and they may experience terror immediately and involuntarily.  They need and deserve a break.

Women are gas-lighted(manipulated to question their own sanity) by their abusive male partners all the time, it is furthering the abuse to then expect then to share women-only spaces with males who say that they are women because they are not.  The Gender Recognition Act has created what has been described by Professor Kathleen Stock as a legal fiction – males can be recognised as women under the law, but it doesn’t mean that they really are women.  Some people might choose to use preferred pronouns as a sign of courtesy to trans people – but it doesn’t mean that they all believe a person can change sex.  A person cannot change sex.  It undermines our ability to help women believe in themselves if we put them in positions where we expect them to believe this lie.

__________________

Some say that men will not go so far as to lie about being trans in order to access vulnerable women. Anyone who believes this has not spent much time with abusive men and has little idea of the lengths that some are prepared to go to.

  • Men like retired police officer Bill Dowling, who called his ex-partner Victoria Rose to help him as – because he  said – he was coughing up blood.  Even though they were separated she went to help. When she arrived he shot her in the head.
  • Men like Darren Sykes, who lured his 9 and 12 year old sons Paul and Jack in to the attic with the promise of a new train set. As they played with it he poured petrol round the house before setting it alight and turning the house into an inferno. His intention – lifelong mental torture of Claire Throssell, his ex-wife, mother of the two now-dead two boys.
  • Men like Stephen Wood, a child abuser on remand for multiple rapes with a long record of sexual and violent offences against women and girls, who said he was trans, and despite retaining his full male genitalia was sent to New Hall Prison under the name Karen White where he assaulted 4 inmates within days of being moved in.

I know these are  extreme examples, most women who experience men’s violence are not killed and most men do not kill their children  – but  they are  illustrative of the lengths that some men are prepared to go to. And those of us who know violent men or women who have been victims of violent men know that there are too many men who would go exactly this far.

Violent men lie and manipulate. Violent men are prepared to stand in court in a witness box and lie. According to data we found for The Femicide Census, of 37 men who pleaded not guilty to murdering women in 2016, only 1 was actually found not guilty of all charges.

We are told that trans people are disproportionately victims of violence this may be true and as a human being I support efforts to reduce crime, violence, hate and discrimination against anyone. As a feminist I applaud those who reject the trappings of gender but as a feminist I cannot stand by if  women are being sold out in this process.   And if we look at homicide, in the last decade, in the UK, there have been 8 homicides of trans people – all biologically male;  on the other hand, trans people – all of these biologically male –  have killed 11, 4 of their victims were women.  And in the same period, men have killed at least 1,373 women.

There are two different issues here – but both are issues that reduce the safety of women – because of the erosion of women-only space

1)  Males  will lie about being trans in order to access women and children  and 2) males who identify as trans commit violence against women at rates akin to those of males who do not

I dont really care which group were most concerned aboutmy concern is women – especially women who have already been subjected to men’s violence.

This is not about lack of compassion with trans people; it is not about denying anyone’s human rights, anyone’s privacy and dignity. Of course not.  But it is about fighting for women’s human rights. Our right to safety, our right to life, our privacy and our dignity. It is about recognising that women have sex-based rights and protections for a reason.

Men have already killed at least 101 UK women this year.  Many thousands of women have been raped.  Many 1000s live with the threat of violence every day. Victim-survivors of men’s violence deserve the breather, the sanctuary,  that is offered by a women only space. Of course it’s too late for the women who have been killed.  . We need to fight for single sex spaces and services.  Let’s not play Russian roulette with the lives of women who have already suffered men’s violence.

The fight against sexual and domestic violence and abuse has been led by women, supporting women. We wouldn’t have a network of refuges and domestic violence and abuse services or Rape Crisis centres if feminists activists and survivors (and of course many women are both) women like Sandra [McNeill] and Jalna [Hamner] who are both here tonight had not created them because they realised that we – women – needed them, and we – women – wanted to support other women facing what we have faced.  And whilst women have succeeded in creating change and this has always been under threat, we are facing a new backlash. We have not yet managed to eradicate men’s violence against women – nor indeed to overthrow the patriarchy,  not yet.  It is our responsibility – those of us here now – to protect and fight for what our fore-sisters created and continue the legacy that helps women escape and recover from  men’s  violence.

If you would like to donate to support nia, an East London based charity supporting women, girls and children subjected to sexual and domestic violence, please click here .

Save our sex column

Short speech opposing a motion at the Women’s Equality Party 2018 in favour of simplifying the ‘gender recognition certificate’ process

Vote Labia

Self-declaration creates an environment that is hostile to specialist single-sex services and one in which women cannot set our own boundaries

 

This is what I’d planned to say in opposition to a motion at the Women’s Equality Party 2018 in favour of simplifying the ‘gender recognition certificate’ process. I’d slightly edited it to get it under the expected required 3 minutes (so it was already over-simplified and by no means everything I want to say) but in the event on the day, I had to further cut it down because there were so many who wanted to speak (both for and against) the motion, Whilst that was frustrating, it’s fine, it’s part of a democratic process. The outcome is that the WEP will be further consulting its members on this issue. I applaud WEP for daring to tackle these issues and for consulting members.

My name is Karen Ingala Smith. I have worked in services for women who have been subjected to men’s violence for 29 years. I run the project Counting Dead Women commemorating women killed by men in the UK and I am co-founder of the Femicide Census in partnership with Women’s Aid.

We’ve heard from women who have told us they have spoken to specialist women’s organisations. I haven’t just spoken to such an organisation – I run one.[1]

I oppose this motion.

Self –declaration would mean that any man who says he is a woman would be able to access specialist services for women subjected to men’s violence.

Self-declaration creates an environment that is hostile to specialist single-sex services and one in which women cannot set our own boundaries.

Some say we can use risk assessments to assess whether a male who says he is trans poses a risk to women.

When a risk assessment is completed with a woman looking to move in to a refuge, time is critical, you need to get her to a place of safety and quickly. You’re assessing the risk she is facing from her partner, whether the location of the refuge offers safety and whether she herself would pose a risk to others living in the refuge. Not whether or not she is actually a violent male.

Another way we mitigate against risk is by providing a woman-only space.  

At least 80%  of males who identify as trans retain a penis. Do adult penises belong on women’s refuges and Rape Crisis centres? Many of the women and children we work with are terrified of males. They need and deserve a break.

There is a no credible evidence suggesting that males who identify as trans commit violence against women at lower rates than those who do not.  Gender Recognition Certificates do not reduce men’s violence.

A women-only space is also one of the ways that we create a sense of sanctuary for women.   Women say that they want women-only services for “safety, empathy, trust, support, they’re less intimidating and focus on women’s needs”.  Women tell us time and time again that being with women who have had similar experiences is a vital part of accepting that they are not to blame.

Some say that men will not go so far as to lie about being trans in order to access vulnerable women. Anyone who believes this has not spent much time with abusive men and has little idea of the lengths that some are prepared to go to.

Darren Sykes, killed his 9 and 12 year old sons Paul and Jack by luring them in to an attic with the promise of a new train set – before he locked them in and turned the house into an inferno. His intention – lifelong mental torture of Claire Throssell, his ex-wife, mother of the two now-dead two boys. I know this is an extreme example, but it is one example of a countless number and it is illustrative of the lengths that some men are prepared to take.

Violent men lie. Violent men are prepared to stand in court in a witness box and lie. Of 37 men who pleaded not guilty to murdering women in 2016, only 1 was actually found not guilty of all charges.

We are told that trans people are disproportionately victims of violence. In the last decade, in the UK, there have been 7 homicides of trans people – all biologically male;  on the other hand, trans people – all of these biologically male –  have killed 12, 4 of their victims were women.  And in the same period, men have killed at least 1,364 women.

This is not about lack of compassion with trans people; it is not denying them human rights, privacy and dignity. Of course not. It is about recognising that women have sex-based rights and protections for a reason.

How am I – a provider of women’s services – supposed to differentiate between a man who says he is a woman and a man who contemplates assaulting, raping or killing a woman?

Men have already killed 93 UK women this year.  Many thousands have been raped. Do not play Russian roulette with the lives of women who have already suffered men’s violence.

[1] Most definitely not on my own!

 

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Gender Recognition Act and implications for women, please check out Woman’s Place UK  and Fair Play for Women. I’ll be speaking in Leeds on 28 September on this issue with Nic Williams from Fair Play and Stephanie Davies-Arai from TransgenderTrend.