Counting Dead Women

Demanding the government create a fit-for-purpose record of fatal male violence against women



Theresa May, Home Secretary

In the first three days of January 2012, seven women in the UK were murdered by men, three were shot, one was strangled, one was stabbed, one was beaten then smothered and one was killed through fifteen blunt force trauma injuries. Karen Ingala Smith started counting and commemorating women killed though male violence, by the end of August 2013, she had counted 197 dead women.

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
  1. 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. Your policies should reflect this.

I don’t think the murders of Kimberley Frank and Samantha Sykes by Ahmad Otak were any less about male violence against women that they would have been if he had been the boyfriend of one of them.

I don’t think the murders of Margaret Biddolph, 78 and Annie Leyland,88 by Andrew Flood, 43; or Irene Lawless, 68 who was raped, beaten and strangled by 26 year-old Darren Martin, after he had been looking at pornography involving rape and older women, were any less about misogyny.

Femicide isn’t just about women killed though domestic violence.

  1. 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 connecting and naming the women killed, I would like the horror and unacceptability of what is happening to be made to 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 would like to see a fit-for-purpose record of fatal male violence against women. I would like to see analysis of the connections between the different forms of fatal male violence against women. I would like to see a homicide review for every sexist murder. I would like the government to fund a Femicide Observatory , where relationships between victim and perpetrator and social, cultural and psychological issues are analysed. 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 ensure that we record and commemorate women killed through male violence – not Karen Ingala Smith, a random woman trying to do this from a bedroom in east London.

That is why I am supporting Karen’s campaign ‘Counting Dead Women’. Please stop ignoring dead women and ensure that all fatal male violence against women is properly understood and that women killed are identified and commemorated.


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