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.