A Tale of Six Johns

6 Johns

(Image: Top, L to R: Mathew Cherrington, Mateusz Kosecki, Michael Wenham.

Bottom L to R: Robert Fraser, Steven Mathieson, Nicholae Patraucean)

Prostitution is not safe for women. Women who sell sex face regular physical and sexual violence. More than half of women involved in prostitution in the UK have been raped and/or sexually assaulted – the vast majority of these assaults committed by sex buyers (Hester & Westmarland, 2004). Last year, 2014, six women who sell sex were murdered in the UK: Maria Duque-Tunjano, 48; Karolina Nowikiewicz, 25; Rivka Holden, 55; Yvette Hallsworth, 36; Lidia Pascale, 26 and Luciana Maurer, 23. They were all killed by johns, that is by men who buy sex.

Prostitution is often framed in the context of women’s choices, those of us who oppose prostitution accused of denying women’s agency, their capacity to choose and their right to do so.  But a choice based on necessity, on a lack of viable alternatives isn’t really a choice.  Five of the six women above were not born in the UK, coming from Colombia, Poland, Israel and two from Romania.  The only UK born woman had a problem with substance use.  Poor women, migrant women and women with problematic substance use are disproportionately represented amongst women who sell sex.  And whilst some men sell sex, women do so disproportionately. Men are also overwhelmingly, regardless of the sex of the seller, the buyers.

Mathew Cherrington had been exercising his consumer choices.  The 26-year-old man’s phone records showed he had contacted several women who sold sex before arranging for 26-year-old Lidia Pascale to visit his flat. She suffered at least 11 blows to her head and had injuries on her hands, where she’d put them on her head trying to defend herself.  After killing her, Cherrington put Lidia in a black bin bag and into a bin. The final insult, the bin, the destination of unwanted, broken, expended consumables, rubbish.

Mateusz Kosecki chose Yvette Hallsworth because she was “slightly built.”   At 18 he was already a predator who preyed on women in prostitution.  He had attacked at least three women who sold sex before he killed Yvette Hallsworth, luring her into a secluded  alley before stabbing her 18 times using a knife that he had taken out with him.  A judge described him has having a ‘fascination, if not an obsession” with prostituted women. His attack on Yvette was described as cruel and savage.

Habitual sex-buyer and frequent consumer of pornography Michael Wenham had spent £15,000 on trying to enlarge his penis but instead lost two inches.  He had been married eight years and had three children.  He phoned in sick to work and bought a Stanley knife, gloves and plastic sacks.  He contacted Karolina Nowikiewicz after the first woman he called wasn’t available. After asking Karolina to undress and get on all fours, he attacked her from behind, slashing her throat, cutting through her major arteries and spinal cord and almost decapitating her. In court, the attack was described as “premeditated, planned and clinically executed.” Karolina was a student, selling sex to fund her studies.

40-year-old ex-banker Robert Fraser was deemed an “ongoing and very real danger to women” by Judge John Bevan.  Diagnosed as suffering from paranoid-schizophrenia he is said to have believed that god represented men and the devil represented women.  He attacked a 27-year-old prostituted woman in January last year, convincing her that he was going to kill her, shoving her underwear in to her mouth before twisting her head as if he was going to break her neck. 10 days later he bludgeoned Maria Durque-Tunjano to death, she was killed by blunt force trauma to the head.  Colombian born British national Maria had been financially supporting her family in Colombia through prostitution.  She was still wearing a black corset and high-heeled shoes when her body was found.

Father of two, Steven Mathieson, was in debt due to the extent of his use of phone sex lines. His partner, who knew of neither the phone sex or the debt, was out for the evening and he made arrangements for three women to come to his home. Luciana Maurer was the first to arrive.  With his four-year-old son asleep in the house he stabbed her 44 times and cut her throat in an upstairs bedroom. When the other women arrived, he took them in to the room where they immediately saw her dead on the bed. He forced them to strip and to dance for him and raped them both.  The naked women were able to escape when Mathieson thought he heard his partner returning.  Mathieson dialled 999 and said “I’ve been high on drugs and killed a prostitute.” According to his legal advocate, before that evening, Mathieson had been of “impeccable character.”

Nicolae Patraucean, 21, like Michael Wenham, chose to use a Stanley knife to slit the throat of and dismember Rivka Holden after strangling her following his celebrations at having obtained a national insurance number.  Patrucean’s attitude to women in prostitution was illustrated in his statement to a friend “I killed a person … not a person, a whore.”

All women should be safe from men’s violence. With the exception of those whose misogyny infused denial runs so deep that their immediate reaction to that statement is anything on the continuum of ‘what about the men’ responses, there are few who would disagree.  Similarly, I don’t know any feminist with an opinion on prostitution that believes women who sell sex should face or fear violence. If abolitionists, harm-reducers and free-choice free-market celebrants of prostitution agree on one thing, surely it is this.

Having a market of women – whether we are selling sex or whether our modified and culturally idealised images are used to adorn adverts  of other products – commodifies women. It makes us into objects.  As objects we become ‘less than’, less than fully human, not equal. Our value is set by our worth as products on the scale of marketability. This affects all women, whether or not we are those for sale or those used to boost sales. It’s no coincidence that we talk about purchasing power.  Regulating the sale of sex doesn’t empower women, it further endorses men’s power over the women by giving them consumer status, rights and choices.  Women, on the other hand, become  commodities, interchangeable and disposable.

We need to change men’s attitudes to women, we need to eradicate the misogyny and entitlement that fuels men’s violence against women.  Inequality between women and men is a cause and a consequence of men’s violence against women. We simply cannot achieve equality between the sexes, let alone the liberation of women from men’s oppression, whilst one sex is for sale, the consumable, and one sex is the buyer, the consumer. Women’s rights to safety must always be greater than men’s rights as consumers.

Six men: A Nick, a Mick, a Steve, a Bob and two Matts. All Johns.  Six women: Maria, Karolina, Rivka, Yvette, Lidia and Luciana.  All dead. Women should not be for sale.

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What do you think of when you hear the term ‘Cultural Violence’?

Culture is the ideas, social behaviours and traditions or customs of a particular society or group.

Cultural violence occurs when an someone is harmed as a result of practices that are part of her culture or tradition.  In patriarchal societies male violence against women is cultural, it is normalised, it functions as a cause and consequence of inequality between women and men.

In the UK, for April 2014, we could represent cultural violence like this:

April 201 - 15 women

(Left to right. Top row: Doreen Walker, Senga Closs, Kayleigh Palmer, Image to represent Sandra Boakes, Yvette Hallsworth; Middle row: Isabelle Sanders, Judith Nibbs, Pauline Butler, Angela Smeaton, Doreen Webb; Bottom row: Image to represent Elaine Duncan, Malgorzata Dantes, Ann Maguire, Carol Dyson, Susan Ashworth).     

The fifteen women above were all killed in the UK in April 2014. The primary suspects alleged to have killed them are all male.  Fatal male violence against women in the UK is so normalised that only the killing of one of these women made a significant impact on the media.  In the UK, the predominant culture makes fatal male violence against women invisible, it is rarely named as a cultural practice and there is resistance to attempts made to do so.

The woman killed though alleged male violence in the UK in April 2014 were aged between 16 and 75 years old.  Their killers were aged between 15 and 79 years old.  The men who allegedly killed the women made the following choices: One to kill a woman through multiple injuries, one to kill a woman through head injuries, one to strangle a woman, one to decapitate a woman, one to smoother a woman, one to kill her in a house fire or use a house fire to disguise his method of killing and seven to stab women to death  The methods by which two women were killed have not been made publicly available, we don’t yet know about the choices the men made who killed them. At least eight men are alleged to have killed a partner or former partner, one is alleged to have killed one of his teachers and one is alleged to have killed his mother. The relationship between alleged perpetrator and victim has not been released in four cases when men killed women in the UK in April 2014.

In the UK, if asked to describe the term ‘cultural violence’ in relation to April 2014, do we think about these fifteen dead women? If not, we should.

 

 

 

Can you give me a link to ‘Counting Dead Men’?

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Women who are killed are most likely to have been killed by a man, men who are killed are most likely to have been killed by a man.  We know that women who are killed are most likely to have been killed by someone they know, government statistics suggest 78%, of these most are killed by a partner or former partner, government statistics suggest 47%.  Most women killed are killed by men.  The government declines to share the statistic for this, instead blurring the sex of killers by using neutral relationship terms like parent, associate, child, indeed partner or ex-partner to identify killers by their relationship to the victim. Men, on the other hand, whilst still more likely to have been killed by someone they know, 57%, are much less likely to be killed by a partner or former partner, approximately 5% of men killed. Gay men are more likely to be killed by their male partner than lesbians killed by their female partner.   

Most men killed are killed by men.  Again, the government declines to share this statistic. We know that more men are killed each year than women, so we can’t simply compare the 47% of women killed being killed by a partner/ex-partner to the 5% of men killed for a simple numerical comparator, but in the 11 years between 2001/2 and 2011/12, 296 men, an average of 27 per year were killed by a partner or ex-partner and 1066 women were killed by a partner or ex-partner, an average of 97 per year.  In the same period, in total, 6.1% of people convicted of murder were women, meaning that 93.9% were men, those are the government’s figures, not mine.  31.8 of homicide victims were women, 68.2% were men.

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We all know that Charles Saatchi grabbed Nigella Lawson by the throat last June but what about Janelle Duncan Bailey, 25; Myrna Kirby, 57;  Glynis Solmaz, 65; Chantelle Barnsdate-Quean, 35; Mary Roberts, 50;  Christine Baker, 52; Margaret Macati, 63; Georgia Williams, 17; Yvonne Walsh, 25; Marianne Stones, 58; Sabeen Thandi, 37; Shavani Kapoor, 34; Assia Newton, 44; Jade Watson, 22; and Poonam, 35,  all of whom were strangled to death last year in the UK by men.  How many of us know the names of these women?  How many of us know the names of their killers?

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On Saturday 5 April this year, it is alleged that Mayka Kukucova shot a British man Andrew Bush, in Spain.   A google search of her name brings 5,100 results and 104 links to articles for the reader to ‘explore in depth’. On the same day, Aston Robinson murdered Kayleigh Palmer, it is alleged; a search of his name brings 3,420 results and 39 articles to ‘explore in depth’. Also on 5 April, it is alleged that Steven McCall murdered Senga Closs.  Search his name and there are 3,700 results but the first three links are to completely different issues, different McCalls, before the murder of Senga Closs appears with 5 links to pieces for the reader to  ‘explore in depth’.  Since then Dudley Boakes and Mateusz Kosecki have been charged with the murders of Sandra Boakes and Yvette Hallsworth on 6th April; and Dempsey Nibbs with the murder of Judith Nibbs on 11th April; none generating the interest afforded to Mayka Kukucova.  In addition, Liam Naylor has been charged with the murder of Doreen Walker on 2 April and Paul McManus has been charged with the fatal stabbing of  Isabelle Sanders on 9 April. Compare also the number of photos of Mayka Kukucova  to those of the men accused of murder (only Aston Robinson currently appears in a photograph) and it is very clear that the killing of a British man by a woman, even overseas, is deemed much more newsworthy than that of any of the 7 British women suspected to have been killed by men  in the UK so far this month.

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The media coverage of the current trial for murder of Oscar Pistorius who has admitted killing Reeva Steenkamp last February, has sympathetically covered his sobbing, his vomiting and his love for Reeva;  despite his more recent floundering under cross-examination by state prosecutor Gerrie Nel, today he found time to sign an autograph on his way out of court  reading “Thank you for your love and kindness, Oscar”.  It’s about him, about what happened to him not what he did.  Last month, a report released by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) ‘Everyone’s business: Improving the police response to domestic abuse’ referred to 77 women killed by their partners or ex-partners between April 2012 and March 2013.  The focus on domestic violence meant that the killings by men of 38 women were rendered irrelevant. The extent of fatal male violence against women simply erased.

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We’re only two weeks in to April 2014 and already seven women in the UK have been killed, with a man charged with their murders.  Just like any other month, these killings can rarely, even if somewhat anachronistically, be referred to as front-page news.  Without the added ingredient of celebrity, male violence against women: rape, assault and murder are simply too commonplace.

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Almost 94% of murderers in the UK are men.  Even the most ardent disciples of ‘yeah but women kill men too’  cannot deny that this is a  significant statistical difference.  Government data and mainstream media conspire to feed the denial of both the extent to which men comprise the majority of murderers and the number of women killed by men compared to the number of men killed by women.  It could almost make you feel sympathetic to those suggesting, demanding or instructing me to count dead men.  Almost.

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