In the first three days of January 2012, seven women in the UK were murdered by men, three were shot, two were strangled one was stabbed and one was killed through fifteen blunt force trauma injuries. Perhaps because it was the beginning of the year, I just started counting, and once I’d started, I couldn’t stop. Since then, I’ve counted 199 women killed through suspected male violence.
The Home Office currently records and published data on homicide victims and the relationship of the victim to the principal suspect and sex of the victim. This does not do enough to tell us about fatal male violence against women:
1. It doesn’t tell us about the sex of the perpetrator
2. It doesn’t connect the different forms of male violence against women
The government has made it mandatory for a ‘domestic violence homicide review’ to be held every time a someone is killed through domestic violence. That’s good but it isn’t wide enough. The government doesn’t have a Domestic Violence Strategy, it’s done better than that, it has a Strategy to End Violence Against Women and Girls.
My list doesn’t just include women killed though domestic violence. I want us to stop seeing the killings of women by men as isolated incidents, to put them together and to see the connections and patterns.
3. It dehumanises women.
The statistic ‘on average two women a week a killed through domestic violence in England and Wales’ is well known. People seem to be able to repeat this without getting outraged or upset, through naming the women killed, I’m trying to make the horror and unacceptability of what is happening feel more real.
The murders of some women barely cause a ripple, some don’t make it into the national media. If the press take this seriously, there’s more chance of people seeing what is going on, of understanding the implications of male violence and to say ‘no more’. Ultimately, I want to see men stop killing women.
I want to see a fit-for-purpose record of fatal male violence against women. I want to see the connections between the different forms of fatal male violence against women. I want to believe that the government is doing everything it can to end male violence against women and girls. I think the government should be recording and commemorating women killed through male violence – not me, a random woman in a bedroom in east London.
Please show that this is important to you too and sign my petition. Together we can end male violence against women.
Karen Ingala Smith has worked in non-government organisations for over 20 years and has specialised in the women’s sector and services for victim/survivors of violence against women throughout this time. Her career has included frontline service delivery, management, senior management and governance. Karen’s blog can be found here