Afford women and children the same protection from terrorism at home as in public

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Every year in England and Wales, over 100 women are killed by partners or ex-partners as a result of domestic abuse. Yet, it has taken traditional terrorists 10 years to kill this many people in public. True terrorism occurs not in our streets, but in our homes.

Domestic abuse is an intentional crime, carried out because of a rigid belief in, and policing of, gender stereotypes – it occurs because of a masculine-fundamentalist ideology. Masculine-fundamentalist ideology is 10x more lethal than religious-fundamentalist ideology in the UK. But the biggest risk from masculine-fundamentalists is to women and children and therefore it continues to be ignored as a threat. The Government has the responsibility to protect women and children in private – a responsibility it has ignored while it continues to pursue an agenda to protect only those in public.

On 12 April 2019, new laws introduced in the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 came into force. This demonstrates that the Government will challenge civil liberties to keep the public safe. But the millions of women and children suffering domestic abuse in the UK lose their civil liberties every day; they become hostages in their own homes.

Most murdered men are killed in public. Yet, most murdered women and children are killed at home by lethal domestic abusers. However, despite the Government’s recent update to terrorism laws, there are no equivalent laws to keep women and children safe in their own homes.

Our society does not have the necessary legal systems in place to protect women and children from the biggest external threat to their lives.

These men often hide under the radar of the law until they decide to commit murder. In fact, in one third of all domestic homicides – where domestic homicides account for 25% of all murders in the UK – there was no history of violence before the murders. In cases where the abuser has never been previously violent, there is very little available to protect women and children, and restraining orders and legal documents will do nothing to stop a man intent on killing. These women and children can only hope that they will not become one of these statistics.

Despite the common rationalisations provided in the media, these men who murder their families do not snap, and their actions are not the result of poor mental health. Their actions are the result of an ideology of male domination over women and children.

These men often do not abuse neighbours, colleagues or anyone outside of the house. In fact, they have enough control to abuse only their families and to seem like ‘good men’ to outsiders. It may seem that domestic murders ‘come out of nowhere’ but it is very common that these men plan the murders of their families well in advance.

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Statistics are human beings with the tears wiped away

-          Paul Brodeur
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On the 19 July, 2016, our father shot and murdered our 50-year-old mother, Claire, and our 19-year-old sister, Charlotte, before killing himself. After the murders we discovered that, for months before killing our mother and sister, our father had been researching on the internet for reports of men who killed their families. He had also spent weeks writing his murder note on his computer, tweaking his justifications, before he was convinced his ideology was sufficiently refined to kill his family.

Men, like our father, abuse and murder their families because they believe they are entitled to control them. When their families do not obey their control, these men will hunt them down and kill them – yet another example of the controlled nature of the killings. These murders do not occur in the ‘heat-of-the-moment’. In fact, up to three quarters of murdered women are killed after they’ve left their partner. These men do not kill their partners and children because of emotion; they kill in a hyper-rational ideological state. It is their beliefs which are responsible.

Traditional terrorists kill the public in the name of a religious or political ideology, and domestic abusers kill their partners and families in private because of their gender ideology. They are two sides of the same coin.

The key difference is that, in the UK, these domestic abusers are a far more lethal threat to women and children than traditional terrorists. In fact, masculine-fundamentalists cause much more disruption to the UK economy and our ways of life than traditional terrorism (the yearly cost of domestic abuse is calculated at £66bn by the Home Office’s own estimates compared to £3.2bn for traditional terrorism).

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How many of us significantly alter our day-to-day lives because of the fear that we may be caught up in traditional terrorist attacks? Now, think about how many women avoid walking alone in the dark, clutch their keys between their knuckles when walking through a car park alone, or fear their partner’s return from work? The magnitude of fear and murders attributed to masculine-fundamentalist terrorism needs to be recognised as the single greatest threat to peace and freedom in our society.

We call on the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, to extend the protections against terrorism, which are currently afforded to the public, to women and children in private. The solution is to extend the legal structures surrounding terrorism to include domestic abusers. These mechanisms will allow the surveillance of domestic abusers’ intentions and the pre-emptive measures of restraint and punishment which are currently applied to traditional terrorists.

Domestic abuse satisfies the legal definition of terrorism within the UK (as below), therefore the Government has an obligation to incorporate the necessary protections discussed.

The United Kingdom's Terrorism Act 2000 defined terrorism as follows:

  1. In this Act "terrorism" means the use or threat of action where:
    (a) the action falls within subsection (2),
    Domestic abuse satisfies each element of subsection 2
    (b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public and
    As discussed, male violence in women’s personal lives creates much more disruption and fear than the fear generated by traditional terrorism in public
    (c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.
    Domestic abuse is an intentional and ideologically-driven crime, based on gender stereotypes and the demand that women and children are subservient to men, at all costs
  2. Action falls within this subsection if it:
    (a) involves serious violence against a person,
    Domestic abuse costs the NHS £2.3bn each year, with nearly 500,000 victims per year presenting injuries caused by violence
    (b) involves serious damage to property,
    Total repairs and maintenance expenditure attributed to domestic abuse, for social housing alone, in England and Wales is estimated at £383 million a year, equivalent to the total destruction of 1,300 houses per year
    (c) endangers a person's life, other than that of the person committing the action,
    Domestic homicide is the leading cause of murder for women in the UK
    (d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public or
    Domestic homicides accounts for 25% of all homicides in the UK
    (e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.
    Domestic abuse interferes with every aspect of a victim’s life