Don’t these feminists just need to lighten up and have some Halloween fun?

Artist Emma Bolland took and shared on twitter a photo of a mannequin in the window of the Amazing Party Company fancy dress shop in Leeds.  After seeing the photo, I called the shop to complain, by this time they had removed the knife from her chest, they told me “It isn’t a woman who has been stabbed.  It’s a zombie nurse.  Zombie’s don’t really exist. It’s just a bit of fun”

The stereotype of the ‘sexy nurse’ isn’t fun, it is objectification, 90% of nurses are women, it is reducing the role of a nurse to a woman’s sexual agency. It is pure and simple sexism. A UK poll found that for men a nurse was the most sexually-fantasized-about job. Reducing nurses to sex objects is an insult to the hard work and professionalism of the thousands of women in nursing and contributes to the devaluing of the role and towards sexual harassment of nurses in their place of work.

As the Amazing Party Company – who describe themselves as a family run retail business –said “Zombie nurses don’t exit.”  Zombie nurses don’t exist, but stabbed women do, stabbed nurses do. I’d like to see them explain the fun of stabbed nurses to Penny and John Clough, whose daughter, 26 year old nurse Jane Clough, was stabbed 71 times by her former boyfriend Jonathan Vass before he slit her throat in the hospital car park.  Or the family and friends of 25 year-old estate agent Nicole Waterhouse from York or 28 year-old Gabrielle Stanley from Doncaster, both of whom were stabbed to death this month.  From my records of women killed through suspected male violence I know that 33 UK women were stabbed to death by violent men in 2012.  At least a further 11 women have been killed though stabbing so far this year, probably more – if 2012 was typical, stabbing seems to be the most frequently used form of murder. Stabbed nurses, stabbed women, I’m failing to see the fun side.

Those stabbings take place within a wider context of fatal male violence against women.  In total, I know of 120 women killed though male violence in 2012 and a further 100 already suspected so far this year. Not fun.

Jane Clough  had written in her diary that she thought Jonathan Vass would try to kill her after she ended their relationship.  In the December before he murdered her, Vass was charged with 9 counts of rape and 4 of assault against Jane. Against the reported wishes of both the police and the Crown Prosecution Service, Judge Simon Newel granted him bail.  Making male violence against women fun contributes to a society that doesn’t take the threat of male violence against women seriously. A society that doesn’t taken male violence against women seriously is one in which bail can be  granted to men with a history of violence against women.

I’m still not finding this fun.  Happy Halloween Amazing Party Company.  Did you make  a good profit out of the fun that is fatal male violence against women?

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Who gets to define femicide?

I’ve been undecided about the use of the term ‘femicide’  to describe the list of names of the UK  women killed through suspected1 male violence.  The term is useful because it takes the concept of fatal male violence against women beyond domestic violence and that’s important, many people’s understanding of the concept of fatal male violence against women stops and ends at women killed through domestic violence.  However, that the term ‘femicide’ in itself fails to name the male as the agent is problematic.  An early definition of femicide as “the killing of females by males because they are females” dealt with this, though there is a convincing argument for the inclusion of women killed by women because of the influence of patriarchal values.

In 2012, the participants of the Vienna Symposium on Femicide agreed the following:

Femicide is the killing of women and girls because of their gender, which can take the form of, inter alia: 1) the murder of women as a result of intimate partner violence; 2) the torture and misogynist slaying of women 3) killing of women and girls in the name of “ honour”; 4) targeted killing of women and girls in the context of armed conflict; 5) dowry-related killings of women; 6) killing of women and girls because of their sexual orientation and gender identity; 7) the killing of aboriginal and indigenous women and girls because of their gender; 8) female infanticide and gender-based sex selection foeticide; 9) genital mutilation related femicide; 10) accusations of witchcraft and 11) other femicides connected with gangs, organized crime, drug dealers, human trafficking, and the proliferation of small arms.

As a list of some of the forms that femicide can take, this is helpful and aids the understanding of femicide as something much wider than domestic violence.  The use of the term ‘inter alia’ meaning ‘among other things’ indicates that even they were not convinced that this included everything.  They’re right, it certainly doesn’t include everything.  The definition fascinates me.  It is 123 words long.  123 words and the words man, men or male do not appear once. The full declaration is over 800 words long.  It mentions men and boys once, in reference to ‘sensitising education programmes’. The argument that femicide can also include the killings of women by women because of the influence of patriarchal values is not so convincing that it warrants the absence of the identification of men as perpetrators in a declaration to take action to end femicide that spans over 800 words. The vast majority of women who are killed, are killed by men, whilst it is also true that the vast majority of killers of men are also men, this cannot warrant the failure to name men as the killers of women.  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.  The exclusion of male violence from the declaration on femicide is inexcusable.  Inexcusable because failing to name the agent will not help us to end, or even reduce, fatal male violence against women.  Could failing to name men as the agents of femicide be a patriarchal political act?

I’ve written about the murders of 18 year-old Samantha Sykes and 17 year-old Kimberley Frank in other pieces.  It was their murders by Ahmad Otak that convinced me that a list of women killed by men through domestic violence, simply was not enough. Otak wasn’t the boyfriend of either of them, but of Elisa Frank, Kimberley’s sister.  The murders of Samantha and Kimberley don’t fit the definition of domestic violence, but they’re absolutely about a man trying to exert power, control and coercion in his relationship, reports of their murders have stated that he was attempting to show Elisa that he would allow no-one to stand in the way of them being together. The murders of Kimberley and Samantha were every bit about male violence against women, control and coercion through the display of the power to kill.  I doubt anyone would try to say that the murders of Samantha and Kimberley weren’t femicide.

I’ve been challenged about the inclusion of older women killed in the process of robberies and muggings in my work naming the women killed through male violence.  In 2012, six older women, aged between 75 and 88 were killed by much younger men, aged between 15 and 43 as they were robbed or mugged:

Irene Lawless, 68 who was raped, beaten and strangled by 26 year old Darren Martin. Pornography depicting rape and featuring older women was found on his home computer.

Margaret Biddolph, 78 and Annie Leyland, 88 were strangled and robbed by Andrew Flood, 43, who knew them through his job as a taxi driver. He’d also robbed a third woman elderly woman and threatened to kill her cat.  He was clearly targeting women.

Delia Hughes was 85 when she was killed by 25 year-old Jamie Boult. He struck her repeatedly about the head with a hammer, a hammer he was carrying specifically because he intended to kill.  When Boult was sentenced, Delia’s daughter, Beryl said

“I’ve never seen a dead body before. Seeing my mum her head battered, covered in blood, black and blue with bruises, sitting in a pool of blood, blood splattered on the walls, this is a sight that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

The murder of Delia Hughes was not simply a robbery gone wrong.

Similarly, Jean Farrar, 77, was kicked and stamped on by Daniel Barnett, 20, until she was her virtually unrecognisable.  Her  son Jamie was absolutely right when he said 2Daniel Barnett did not need to enter my mother’s house that night. He chose to. Upon finding my mum at home, he easily could have left.  Instead he chose to beat her and throw her against the wall. And when she screamed in pain, he chose to kick her, stamp on her, and jump on her head until she was unable to scream any more.”

Whatever the rights and wrongs of Jamie Boult and Daniel Barnett’s choices to carry out robberies, that these choices also included choices to inflict fatal violence was not inevitable.

Paula Castle was 85 when she was knocked to the ground when she was mugged by Jiervon Bartlett and Nayed Hoque who were both 15.  They may not have intended to kill her, but they also mugged another woman the next day.  They were clearly targeting women.  

I’ve been told that the killing of elderly women as part of a robbery or mugging is “not femicide”.  I disagree.  These women were killed because they were women.  And if their killings are not femicide, then it is because the term femicide is being misused

Epistemology questions what knowledge is and how it can be acquired. The acquisition and identification of what constitutes knowledge does not escape structural inequalities of sex, class and race.  Dr Maddy Coy of the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit at London Metropolitan University calls for the recognition of practice-based evidence, for example from specialist women’s organisations, to be considered as expertise as worthy as that of academics.  It’s ‘participant observation’ when it’s produced by an academic, it’s ‘anecdotal’ when it comes from a women’s services provider.  Does the objectification of women and the valuing of us on our merits based on the patriarchal fuckability test mean that it is the murders of elderly women that are those most likely to be excluded from the term femicide?  Women talk about the mixed blessing of becoming invisible as we grow older, is that what has happened with the term femicide?  Has sex inequality, particularly in patriarchally infected academia and state bureaucracies, depoliticised them term ‘femicide’ to the point that male violence has been erased from the concept?  Until the hierarchies of knowledge  are eradicated, then the role of anything considered knowledge in upholding structural inequality, is open to question.

How easy is it to escape socially constructed gender? How many of us, if our values were assessed and measured, would be found not to be influenced – at all – by sexism and sexist stereotypes?  Do we know that the population of men who kill women are not more sexist and misogynistic than a control group? When misogyny and sexism are so pervasive, are all but inescapable, can a man killing a women ever not be a sexist act?  A fatal enactment of patriarchy?

If an 800 word declaration on  femicide is the best that policy makers and ‘experts’ can come up with and yet it does not mention the words ‘male violence’ ,  if it does not name men as the agents and beneficiaries of fatal male violence against women, it is time for feminists to take back the term and make sure that the definition is ours.

Footnotes

 1 I have to say ‘suspected’ until a trial has been held or an inquest in the case of a man who has also killed himself.

2 Credited to   Diana E. H. Russell

 

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

Many people know the statistic: ‘two women in England and Wales a week are killed through domestic violence‘; but how many try to connect with that and to feel the impact of what it really means?

Through naming the women killed, I’m trying to made the horror and unacceptability of what is happening to women feel more real. I began, in January 2012, by  recording the names of all women killed through domestic violence but as time went on, I wanted to make the connections between the different forms of fatal male violence against women. Since I started the list, I’ve counted 197 dead women.  I’m not going to stop counting and naming the women until I think the government is doing the same, ‘counting dead women’ and doing all it can to make the connections, making good its commitment to end male violence against women.  Please join me demanding action from the government by clicking here and signing my petition.

When I started keeping the list, I was shocked and angry about the lack of attention given to these murders, and what feels like a wilful refusal to look at the links between the forms and causes of violence against women. Male violence against women and girls is a cause and consequence of 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.

The list below is the 78 UK women killed through suspected male violence so far in 2013.  78 women in  243 days, that’s one  woman every 3.1 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
Ellen   Ash 83 21-Mar
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
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
Louisa   Denby 84 01-Jul
Susan   White 51 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 21-Jul
Jean   Redfern 67 22-Jul
Sarah   Redfern 33 22-Jul
Keisha   McKenzie 28 29-Jul
Linah   Keza 29 31-Jul
 
Anu   Kappor 27 04-Aug
Caroline   Parry 46 08-Aug
Mayurathy   Perinpamoorihy 06-Aug
Judith   Maude 57 11-Aug
Gail   Lucas 51 14-Aug
Orina   Morawiec 21 15-Aug
Julie   Connaughton 57 16-Aug
Jane   Wiggett 57 16-Aug
Sabrina   Moss 24 24-Aug
Merissa   McColm 31 25-Aug
Betty   Gallagher 87 25-Aug

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.

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.

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

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.

UK women killed through suspected male violence January – April 2013

32 UK women killed through suspected male violence January – April 2013.

32 women in 120 days, that’s one woman killed every 3.75 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
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
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
Christine Baker 52 30-Apr

In addition to the 32 women listed, I am awaiting news regarding Mary Roberts, 50, found dead, suspected murdered on 27th March, an unidentified woman, aged between 18-22, found in Bierton, Aylesbury and the name of a 32 year old, found dead, in Coventry.

This thing about male victims

A couple of weeks ago, The Independent ran an article on male victims of domestic violence. There were some factual inaccuracies in the report along with the use of the statistic that one in three victims of domestic abuse in Britain is male. I challenged these on twitter. I received the response below from a professional referenced in the article

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But I’m not going to move on. I’d prefer to talk about this statistic because it is unhelpful at best, it is derailing and dangerous at worst.

The claim of gender parity in domestic violence, or at least of much less difference than is conventionally believed, is nothing new, in fact it’s been popping up – and out of the mouths of Men’s Rights Activists – since at least the 1970ies.  No matter how often or how robustly ‘gender symmetry’ claims are rebuffed and refuted, its advocates continue to regurgitate their position.

‘A third of all victims of abuse are male’

The data referenced, that approximately a third of victims of domestic abuse in the UK are male comes from data from the British Crime Survey. It contrasts significantly from data from police crime reports which estimate that between 80-90% of violence against the person reported is by women assaulted by men.

The main problems with the statistic that a third of reports are by men are

    • It is about domestic abuse and/or conflict, not domestic violence
    • The data does not differentiate between cases where there is one incident of physical conflict/abuse/violence or those where violence is repeated. If we look at the data for where there have been four or more incidents, then approximately 80% of victims are women
    • The data does not differentiate between incidents where violence and abuse are used as systematic means of control and coercion and where they are not
    • The data does not include sexual assault and sexual violence
    • The data does not take account of the different levels of severity of abuse/violence, ‘gender symmetry’ is clustered at lower levels of violence
    • The data does not take account of the impact of violence, whether the level of injury arising from the violence or the level of fear. Women are six times more likely to need medical attention for injuries resulting from violence and are much more likely to be afraid
    • The data does not differentiate between acts of primary aggression and self-defence, approximately three quarters of violence committed by women is done in self-defence or is retaliatory.

In fact, if these issues are taken into account, research consistently finds that violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women and levels are consistent with data of reports from the police. This is supported by data from the Crown Prosecution Service that shows that across the five years between 2007/8 and 2011/12, 93.4% of those convicted for crimes relating to domestic violence were men.

Looking at sexual offences

43,869 sexual offences were recorded by police in England and Wales in 2011/12.

In the same year:

    • 96.7% of cautions issues for sexual offences were to males
    • 98.2% of prosecutions for sexual offences were against males
    • 99% of convictions for those found guilty of sexual offences were male

54% of UK rapes are committed by a woman’s current or former partner.

But that doesn’t mean that there is gender parity if sexual offences are excluded from consideration.

‘It’s harder for men to report, there’s much more of a taboo for men’

Exactly the opposite:

    • men are more – not less – likely to call the police
    • men are more likely – not less – to support a prosecution
    • men are less likely – not more – withdraw their support of charges.1

Another way to get round the issue of unrepresentative reporting is to look at who gets killed, dead people don’t get the choice of whether or not to inform the police. UK Homicide records between 2001/2 and 2011/12 (11 years) show that on average 5.7% (296 total) of male homicide victims and 44.2%(1066) of female homicide victims are killed by a partner or ex-partner. Expressed as an average of those killed by a partner or former partner over 11 years, 22% were men, 78% were women.

Note, the domestic homicide figures do not tell us the sex of the perpetrator, nor is the sex of the perpetrator revealed for all other types of homicide. Men are overwhelmingly killed by other men – regardless of the relationship between victim and perpetrator. Women are overwhelmingly killed by men – regardless of the relationship between victim and perpetrator

‘Maybe the police see what they expect to see, gender stereotypes mean that men are more likely to be perceived as the aggressor’

Except that they’re not. Research by Marianne Hester (2009), found that women were arrested to a disproportionate degree given the fewer incidents where they were perpetrators. During a six year study period men were arrested one in every ten incidents, women were arrested one in every three incidents.

When women do use violence, they are at risk of greater levels or retaliatory violence.

Women are penalised, not excused, not invisible, if they transgress gender stereotypes.

‘Women make false allegations’

Except when they don’t and in the vast majority of cases they don’t.

The Crown Prosecution Service recently released data from a 17 month period in which there were 5,651 prosecutions for rape and 111,891 for domestic violence in England and Wales. Over the same timescale, there were only 35 prosecutions for making false allegations of rape, six for false allegations of domestic violence and three that involved false allegations of both rape and domestic violence.

‘Women exaggerate’

Women overestimate their own use of violence but underestimate their victimisation. Women normalise, discount, minimise, excuse their partners’ domestic and sexual violence against them. Women find ways to make it their fault.

In contrast, men overestimate their victimisation and underestimate their own violence.2 Men are more likely to exaggerate a women’s provocation or violence to make excuses for initiating violence and, where retaliation has occurred, in an attempt to make it appear understandable and reasonable. Paul Keene, used the defence of provocation for his killing of Gaby Miron Buchacra. His defence claimed that he was belittled by her intellectual superiority and that he lost control after rowing with her by text over a twelve hour period. That a jury accepted his defence is a further example of how men’s violence is minimised and excused. Not only by men and the women they assault, but by the legal system. The right to claim abuse as a mitigating factor in domestic violence homicide cases was vitally important for women like Kiranjit Aluwahlia, Emma Humphreys and Sara Thornton, all of whom had suffered years of violence and abuse at the hands of the men they killed. That such a defence could be used in Paul Keene’s case only illustrates how differently women and men who use violence are treated.

A feminist perspective, based on an understanding of socially constructed gender roles and differences within the framework of patriarchal society does not mean that all men are violent to women, or that men are genetically pre-disposed to violence. It means the opposite. It means that women and men are socialised and that – within the limits of choice permitted by the social environment – we can choose to be different.

Whether coming from an anti-feminist Men’s Right Activist perspective, or from a
genuine desire to support those men who are victims of domestic or sexual violence, those who use statistics that overstate similarities between male and female violence are either doing so wilfully, to pursue their own agenda, or because they genuinely haven’t taken the time to – or have failed to – understand the statistics.

I have no desire to deny any man’s reality. Denying women’s much greater suffering as victims of domestic and/or sexual violence is a political act. The differences between men and women’s use of violence and experiences of victimisation do not need to be denied or minimised for all victims to be deserving of safety and support. It is quite possible to believe that no woman, child, or man deserves to be a victim of sexual or domestic violence (or indeed of any other type of violence) whist maintaining a feminist agenda to end women’s oppression.

Footnotes

1 Kimmel 2002

2Dobash et al. 1998

Any man experiencing domestic violence can contact the men’s advice line