5 UK women killed with their daughters so far this year – I am sick of hearing about isolated incidents

The bodies of Lisa Anthony, 47 and her daughter Ava Anthony, 14 were found in their home in Surrey home, the day after a man believed to be the girl’s father was found dead in France. It is thought he died after them, the police have said that they are not looking for anyone else.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Preston has said:

 “We are in the very early stages of the investigation but we do not believe there to be any threat to the wider community. This is thought to be an isolated incident. We are not currently looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.”

Not only is Lisa Anthony likely to be at least the 60th UK woman killed by a man or men this year, she the fifth to be killed along with her daughter:

  1. Bernadette Fox, 57, was asphyxiated and her daughter Sarah Fox, 27, was stabbed on 16 April. Bernadette’s son, Sarah’s brother, Peter Fox, has been detained under the Mental Health Act in relation to their deaths.
  2. Shighi Kotuvala/Rethishkumar, 35, was found strangled with her twin daughters Niya and Naya.  Her husband, their father, Pullarkattil Rethishkumar, 44, is believed to have killed them before killing himself.
  3. Jan Jordon, 48, her partner and her six-year-old daughter Derin, were found stabbed to death on 23 May. Jan’s son Jed Allen is thought to have killed them all before killing himself.
  4. Amy Smith, 17, her baby daughter Ruby-Grace and friend Edward Greeen, 17, died in a fire. Peter Eyre, 44 and his sons Anthony, 21 and Simon, 24 have been charged with murder.

I am sick of hearing that there is no threat to the wider community.  At least 60 UK women have been killed by men this year. I am sick of hearing about isolated incidents. 60 women dead at the hands of men in 6 months is a pattern, not an isolated incident and women are my community, don’t tell me that we are not at risk.

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Femicide – Men’s Fatal Violence Against Women Goes Beyond Domestic Violence

I wrote this piece for Women’s Aid’s magazine Safe:

The Office for National Statistics released findings from the 2013/14 Crime Survey for England and Wales on 12 February. Men continue to be more likely to be killed than women, there were 343 male victims compared to 183 female victims (of all ages including children and babies). Court proceedings had concluded for 355 (55%) of 649 suspects relating to 536 homicides.  For those suspects where proceedings had concluded, 90% (338 suspects) were male and 10% were female (38 suspects). Men are more likely to be killed, but their killers are overwhelmingly men. Women are less likely to be killed, when they are, they are overwhelmingly killed by a man.  When we’re talking about fatal violence, we are almost always talking about men’s violence.

The words homicide, from homo “man” and cidium “act of killing”, and manslaughter “ma” and “slæht or slieht” “the act of killing”  are identical etymologically but have developed different legal meanings.  Like the word “murder” both could be described as being ‘gender neutral’, but they are not, both render the killing of women invisible.  The word femicide seeks to address this.  The first modern and feminist definition of ‘Femicide’ is attributed to Jill Radford and Diana Russell (1991). They used it in the context of feminist analysis of men’s violence against women to address the sex-specific killings of women. Whilst some contentions remain over a definition, the definition ‘the killings of women because they are women’ is most frequently used. As well as women killed through intimate partner violence, femicide includes (but is not limited to): women killed by other family members, the torture and misogynist slaying of women including serial killings, the killing of women and girls in the name of “ honour”, targeted killing of women and girls in the context of armed conflict, dowry-related killings of women, female infanticide and gender-based sex selection feticide, killings of women due to accusations of sorcery and/or witchcraft, the deaths of women associated with gangs, organiSed crime, drug dealers, human trafficking and the proliferation of small arms, the killing of women and girls because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and FGM related deaths. Femicide can include women killed by women if the motive is associated with sexist or misogynistic patriarchal values, but is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men.

Femicide is a global issue.  About 66,000 women and girls are violently killed every year, according to a 2012 report by the Small Arms Survey.1 But comparing county-by-county data is challenging, partly because there isn’t a globally accepted definition, or even a globally agreed need for a definition, but also because most countries’ data-collection systems do not record the necessary information, whether that is the sex of the victim and perpetrator, their relationship or any known motives for the killing.  The data that is available suggests that countries with the highest femicide levels correspond to those with the highest rates of fatal violence. El Salvador has the highest femicide rate (12.0 per 100,000 female population), followed by Jamaica (10.9), Guatemala (9.7), and South Africa (9.6). Half of the countries with the top highest estimated femicide rates are in Latin America, with South Africa and Russian and Eastern European countries having disproportionately high rates.  It should be noted that high rates of female infanticide, sex-selective and forced abortion challenge the absence of countries including India and China  from this data. England and Wales’ femicide rate, by comparison, was 0.66 per 100,000 female population for 2013/14.

The ONS findings for 2013/14, consistent with previous years, found that women were far more likely than men to be killed by partners or ex-partners than men.  84 women, around 53% of female homicide victims (over 16) had been killed by their current or a former partner, compared to 23 men (7% of male victims over 16).  The ONS definition of partner/ex-partner homicide includes  killings by a “spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, ex-spouse/ex-cohabiting partner/ex-boyfriend/girlfriend and adulterous relationship” but also “lover’s spouse and emotional rival”.  Combining data for 2011/12 and 2013/14, the ONS tell us that of 57 men killed in partner/ex-partner homicides, 21 of them, over a third, were killed by a man.  Of these 21 men killed by men in the context of partner/ex-partner homicides, 14 of them were killed by a lover’s spouse/love rival.  Of 249 women killed in partner/ex-partner homicides over the same 3 years, 247 were killed by a man, one by a woman (in one case the primary suspect is listed as unknown).  None of the female victims of partner/ex-partner homicide were killed by the spouse of their lover or an emotional rival. Similarly, no male victims of partner/ex-partner homicide were killed by a female spouse of their lover or a female emotional rival. Not only are men killed in the context of an intimate relationship less likely to be killed by their actual partner or ex-partner, they are much more likely than women to be killed by someone of the same sex.

Another important difference between women and men killed in the context of intimate partner violence is the history of the relationship.  When men kill women partners or ex-partners, this usually follows months or years of them abusing her, when women kill male partners or ex-partners, it is usually after months or years of having been abused by the man they have killed.2 So, there are four important differences when we compare women and men killed in the context of a current or previous intimate partnership (figures from the ONS 2011/12 to 2013/14 data):

  • Far fewer men than women are killed in the context of intimate partner violence (57 v. 249)
  • Men are much more likely to be killed by the spouse of a partner or a love rival (14/57 v 0/249)
  • Men are much more likely than women to have been killed by someone of the same sex (21/57 v 1/249)
  • Men are more likely to have been killed by someone they were abusing, women are more likely to have been killed by someone they were being abused by.

If we look at men who kill women (who are not current or ex- intimate partners), it is clear that they have more in common with men who kill female current or former  partners, than the much smaller number of  women who kill male former partners. The concept of femicide, making connections between all forms of men’s fatal violence against women provides a more useful theoretical framework than comparing people killed in the context of intimate partner relationships across the sexes. Sex inequality in patriarchal society cannot be ignored.

Since January 2012, I’ve been recording and commemorating UK women killed by men in a project called Counting Dead Women.  Looking at my own records for the same year as the ONS data, the next biggest group of women killed by men was women killed by their sons.3 Between April 2013 and March 2014, at least 12 women were killed by their sons, two more by their son-in-laws, three by their grandsons and one by her step-grandson. These patterns are not replicated in rates of women killing older male relatives: fathers, fathers-in-law or grandfathers. A further three women were killed by their fathers, and one more by her step-father.

Male entitlement is a deadly seam running through male violence against women, whether coercive control, rape, prostitution, trafficking or femicide.  Prostitution, pornography and trafficking are forms of violence against women, reducing women to commodities, possessions and objects for market exchange. Men are the purchasers, controllers and profit-makers, this market of women cannot be extricated from a context of inequality between women and men. At least 5 women killed last year (the same year as the ONS data) were women exploited through pornography and/or prostitution. There were over 64,000 sexual offences recorded by police last year, overwhelmingly committed by men, with young women those most likely to have experienced sexual assault. 1.4 million domestic violence assaults against women were recorded. When men kill women, regardless of their relationship or lack of it, they are doing so in the context of a society in which men’s violence against women is entrenched and systemic. When misogyny, sexism and the objectification of women are so pervasive that they are all but inescapable, can a man killing a women ever not be a sexist act?

In addition to the women killed in partner/ex-partner homicide and those killed by sons or other family members:

  • One woman was found dead, hanging with a tow rope belonging to the man accused of killing her around her neck. She had more than 30 injuries to her face and arms. He was found sleeping on a blood-stained bed beneath her dead naked body by police who had been called by a neighbour who found water dripping through her ceiling.  The man, who had been in a relationship with her,  claimed not to remember anything that had happened for five hours before police woke him up in bed.  In the weeks before her death, he had sent her a text which read “You’re getting tied up, I will treat you like a random victim, gonna do you Manchester style.”  He claimed she had died during a consensual sex-game and was found not guilty of murder and not guilty of manslaughter. He walked free. The influence of eroticised violence against women cannot be disregarded in this woman’s death.
  • Glen Nelson murdered Krishnamaya Mabo, the court where he was convicted heard that he had gone out seeking a woman to rape. The sentencing judge commented “He killed her deliberately to prevent her testifying about the attempted rape. The violence and sexual assault were inextricably interwoven.”
  • 23-year-old Jamie Reynolds murdered 17-year-old Georgia Williams. During his trial Prosector David Crigman said Reynolds carried out a ‘scripted, sadistic and sexually-motivated murder’ and described him as ‘a sexual deviant’ who has had ‘a morbid fascination in pornography depicting violence towards young women in a sexual context since at least 2008’.  When arrested he had 16,800 images and 72 videos of extreme pornography including digitally modified  images of up to eight other women he personally knew in which ropes had been added around their necks.  Georgia Williams and Jamie Reynolds were ‘friends’, they had not been partners.

Sexual violence runs through these murders and many others that are not men murdering partners or ex-partners. Gender, the social constructs of masculinity and femininity are also integral.  One of the significant achievements of feminism is getting male violence against women into the mainstream and onto the policy agenda.  One of the threats against this achievement is that those with power take the concepts and under the auspices of dealing with the problem shake some of the most basic elements of feminist understanding right out of them.  It is important that we do not allow the connection between the different forms of men’s violence against women to be lost. We need to name the problem as men’s violence against women and we cannot allow a ‘gender’-neutral approach to domestic violence intimate-partner to obscure this.

On the same day that the ONS released their data from the 2013/14 Crime Survey for England and Wales, Women’s Aid and myself launched The Femicide Census. The Femicide Census was built with support from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Deloitte LLP and for the first time will allow detailed tracking and analysis of fatal male violence against women in England. So far data of 694 women killed by men in the years 2009 to 2013 has been collected.

It is self-evident that each woman killed by a man is a unique individual, as is each man who kills a woman or women. The circumstances around each killing are never identical.   But that doesn’t make them isolated incidents.  By refusing to see a pattern we are refusing to see the myriad connections between incidents of men’s fatal violence against women; and by refusing to see the connections we are closing our eyes to the commonalities in the causes. When we link the killings of women by men and stop thinking about isolated incidents, we begin to see the real scale of the problem. The Femicide Census will contribute to increasing awareness of men’s violence and to greater knowledge and analysis of men’s violence against women and girls, it is a crucial step towards prevention.  We also want The Femicide Census to commemorate women, to remember the women and girls who have been killed and the friends and families that mourn them.

To reduce femicide we need to protect the network of specialist services dealing with all forms of men’s violence against women. Refuges in particular can provide a crucial place to escape, though given that women killed years after the end of a violent relationship are not rare, it cannot be assumed that women will be safe after leaving a refuge and this may be particularly important in the context of on-going child contact.  In addition, community based support, ‘Healthy relationships’ education, policing,  prosecutions,  and work with perpetrators are all vitally important, but none of this will tackle the root cause of men’s violence against women.

Men’s violence against women is not natural and it is not inevitable, but it is a cause and consequence of inequality between women and men and underpinned by other manifestations of that inequality: gender and/or sex roles, sexism, misogyny, and the commodification and objectification of women. We need to name men’s violence. We need to keep the connections between the different forms of men’s violence at the forefront of our analysis. We need to say that all the women killed by men were important. If we don’t make the connections and look for the true root causes, we will not reduce the numbers of women being killed by men.  By enabling us to record and analyse comprehensive data on women killed by men, the Femicide Census can be a step towards the change that we want to create.

1 Small Arms Survey, Femicide: A Global Problem

2 Browne et al., 1998; Websdale, 1999; Dugan et al., 2003.

3 Karen Ingala Smith, Killed by their Sons, 2015

Another Isolated Incident

23-year old Zaneta Balazova was found dead by her children on 2nd April 2015 in Benwell, Newcastle. Pavel Cina, 25, has been charged with her murder.

Newcastle City Councillor, Dipu Ahmed, commented:

 “People need to understand this is an isolated incident. Police reacted very quickly and made an arrest.”

“Let’s not raise tensions. We have to grieve for the person who is dead.”

“The people here have always been strong when things like this have happened in the past. No matter what community they are from we need to come together.”

Perhaps Dipu Ahmed would like to define what he means by isolated.

Zaneta Balazova is at least the 26th woman suspected to have been killed by a man in the UK in 2015.

Zaneta Balazova is at least the fifth woman suspected to have been killed by a man in Tyne and Wear in the last year.

Zaneta Balazova was part of a community called ‘women’. Women, my community, are being killed by men. Like Dipu Ahmed I want us to grieve for the woman who is dead. Unlike Dipu Ahmed, I believe that we need to raise tensions.  We need to be angry about yet another murder of one of our community. If members of any other ‘community’ than women, were being killed by members of another ‘community’, other than men, we would not be talking about isolated incidents.

A man suspected of being involved in Huddersfield’s worst-ever mass murder has been arrested in Pakistan: Erasing male violence against women and girls

Shahid Mohammed a  man suspected of being involved in Huddersfield’s worst-ever mass murder has been arrested in Pakistan, the  – so far local – news tells us.

Almost 13 years ago, In May 2002, 8 people1, spanning three generations of one family, were killed and three others escaped, after petrol was poured through the letter box of a house, in Birkby, Hudsdersfield.  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. The youngest killed was a six-month-old baby, the oldest 54.

News of the arrest of Shahid Mohammed immediately caught my attention. Like the killers and their victims, I’m from Huddersfield. I was living and working there for an organisation that ran women’s refuges at the time of the fire.

Three young men were arrested shortly after the incident.  The following year, Shaied Iqbal was convicted of eight counts of murder whilst Shakiel Shazad Amir, and Nazar Hussain were convicted of manslaughter. Shahid Mohammed had also been  arrested but ran away whilst on bail.

What I haven’t seen in the news reports is an analysis of sex.  All those charged in connection with the murders were male, as is Shahid Mohammed.  That seven of the eight victims were women or girls seems to have evaded anyone’s notice. 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 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.  The names say enough, the names tell us ‘other’, the names tell us Muslim.  But the lack of mention of sex fails to locate this act within the context of men’s violence against women and girls.

We need to name male violence against women and girls. 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. Men’s fatal violence against women and girls crosses boundaries of race, religion and culture but immediately when race or religion is a factor in violence, it is identified. Why isn’t it the same with sexist and misogynistic murder? 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.

 

Building the UK’s First Femicide Census: Profiles of Women Killed by Men

Femicide Census Logo

As far as I know, already this year, 10 UK women have been killed by men, they range between 25 and 67-years-old, the men who allegedly killed them between 27 and 75.  10 more women to add to the 126 killed in 2012, the 144 killed in 2013 and the 150 killed in 2014.  Between 2012 and 2014,  I counted and shared the names of 410 women. And now the count for 2015 begins.

Three years after starting I started recording the names of UK women killed by men, it’s with a mixture of pride, deep sadness when I think of women whose lives have been taken by men and feminist anger at the continued onslaught of male violence against women, that I’m looking forward to the launch of the Femicide Census:  Profiles of Women Killed by Men at a conference in London on 12th February.

The conference will bringing together family members of women who have been killed by men and a range of speakers to support the continuation and future development of the census, including me; Polly Neate CEO of Women’s Aid; Professor Jill Radford feminist activist and academic who co-edited Femicide: The Politics of Woman Killing; Dr Aisha Gill co-author of ‘Honour’ Killing and Violence; and Frank Mullane, Director of AAFDA (Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse.

The Femicide Census has been developed through a partnership between Women’s Aid and me, with support from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Deloitte LLP. We intend it to be an important tool, enabling us to monitor fatal male violence against women and provide data to help analyse and reduce the number of women killed by men.  It’s a growing and evolving project currently providing detailed data on femicides in England committed since 2009.  If we don’t name and reveal the extent of men’s fatal violence against women and the various forms it can take, we will never be capable of a thorough enough analysis to reduce or end it.

I spoke to Tracey McVeigh from the Observer about why I started Counting Dead women and why The Femicide Census is important.  Claire Colley spoke to family members of three women who were killed by men.  You can read the piece here.

Title: Building the UK’s First Femicide Census: Profiles of Women Killed by Men
Time & date: 10:00 to 16:30, 12th February 2015‪
Venue: Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, 65 Fleet Street, London, EC4Y 1HS
Cost: £25 per delegate, £20 for Women’s Aid members. No charge for delegates who have lost a family member or friend to femicide.
If you’d like to come along you can book a place here

Killed by their sons

In 2014, 15 UK women were killed with their son named as primary suspect:

  1.  30 Jan 2014: Karen Wild, was found dead through stabbing. A 22-year-old man, said to be her son, Lian Wild, was charged with her murder.
  2. 12 Feb 2014: A woman who cannot be named for legal reasons was found dead in Bow, London. A 15 year old boy, thought to be her son, was charged with her murder.
  3. 21 April 2014: Malgorzata Dantes, 54, and her husband Leszek were stabbed to death. Their son Kamil Dantes was charged with their murders.
  4. 9 May 2014: Tamara Holboll, 67, was found dead with multiple stab wounds following a fire at her home.  Her son, Peter Holboll, 44, was charged with her murder.
  5. 31 May 2014: Barbara Hobbis, 79, was strangled by her 58-year-old son, Geoffrey Hobbis.
  6. 3 June 2014: Yvonne Fox, 87, was killed by blunt force trauma to the head. Her son, Paul Fox, was charged with her murder.
  7. 4 June 2014: Margaret Evans, 69, was beaten to death. Her son, Alun Evan, 32, was detained under the mental health act.
  8. 7 July 2014: Quoi Chang, 50, and her husband Pin Chang, 58, were both stabbed to death in their home. Their 23-year-old son, Carl Chang was charged with their murders.
  9. 19 September 2014: Dorothy Brown, 66, and her husband Paul Brown, 73 were stabbed to death. Their son Timothy Brown, 46, was charged with their murders.
  10. 30 September 2014: Catherine McDonald, 57, was found dead. She had been stabbed and asphyxiated. Her 27-year-old son, Alex McDonald, was charged with her murder.
  11. 11 Oct 2014: Maria Mayes, 67, was stabbed to death.  Her son, Stuart Mayes, was charged with her murder.
  12. 18 Nov 2014: The body of Valerie Davison, 59, known locally as Jane, was discovered. Initially her death was thought to be unexplained but her son Charles Davison, 38 was charged with murdering her sometime between 3-17 November.
  13. 12 December 2014: Carol Ruddy, 54, and her husband Eric, 64, were found with serious injuries at their home. Their son Martin Ruddy, 28, was charged with their
  14. 22 December 2014 was the last day that Carol-Anne Taggart was seen alive. Her body was discovered on 12 January 2015. Her son Ross Taggart, 30, was charged with her murder.
  15. 31 December 2014: Sandra Brotherton, 60, was found stabbed to death.  Her 29 year-old son was arrested on suspicion of murder and detained under the mental health act

In addition, one woman was killed by her grandson, one by her step-grandson and a third woman’s stepson was charged with her murder:

  1. 11 Feb 2014: Clara Patterson, 82, and her son Ray, 61, were found dead. Their grandson/son was found guilty of manslaughter and detained indefinitely.
  2. 18 June 2014: Una Dorney, 87, was found dead in the care home in which she lived. Her step-grandson, Ryan Guest, 33, pleaded guilty to her murder.
  3. 1 November 2014: Ann Cluysenaar (Jackson), 78, was found dead. Her stepson, Timothy Jackson, has been charged with her murder.

Men’s violence against women: ‘Miss World’ is part of the problem

The bodies of Maria Jose Alvarado, 19, and her sister, Sofia Trinidad, 23, were found almost a week after they disappeared after being seen leaving a party near the city of Santa Barbara, in Honduras.  Maria Alvaro was due to fly to London this week to compete in the Miss World competition as Miss Honduras.  Plutarco Ruiz, Sofia’s boyfriend  has confessed to killing both women, allegedly because he was angry and jealous after seeing her dance with another man.

Men’s violence against women is a cause and consequence of sex inequality between women and men.  We need to make the connections between the objectification of women and violence against women.  While women are seen and judged as decorative objects judged by sexist beauty standards and simultaneously as men’s possessions, women and men can never be equal; and as long as we have sex inequality, we will have male violence against women.  The ‘Miss World’ competition is part of the problem. 

Honduras has the sixth highest rate of femicide in the world, a woman is violently murdered every 18 hours, 245 women were killed in the first six months of 2012, over 3000 women killed in a decade. 

And yet  femicide – the systemic killing of women because they are women – rarely makes the news.  If it does, it is usually because, as in the case of the murder of Maria Jose Alvarado​m the woman herself is seen as newsworthy. Across the world, hundreds of women are violently killed every day.  So far this year, in the UK, at least 131 women have been killed through suspected male violence. Ordinary women killed by ordinary men, violence so ordinary that it is rarely front-page news.