Stop Ignoring Dead Women
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Warning: This petition contains graphic content some readers may find disturbing.
On New Year’s Day, 2012, 20-year-old Kirsty Treloar got a text from her boyfriend Myles Williams:
“Okay wer all gud now and my new yrs ressy is that I aint going to hit u again and I won't hit u 4 this yr next yr the yr after that the next yr after that.”
The next day he broke into her family’s home, stabbed her brother and sister as they tried to help, then he dragged Kirsty into the back of his mother's car and drove her away. She was found dead 2 miles away, dumped behind a wheelie bin. Kirsty had been stabbed 29 times.
Michael Atherton, 42, also sent a New Year text. Shortly before midnight, he sent a text to his partner, Susan McGoldrick, saying he was going out and would spend the night away because he didn’t like her sister Alison Turnbull, 44, with whom she was spending the evening. But Susan and Alison came home before he had left. Atherton, who held a gun licence despite a history of arrests for domestic violence dating back 10 years, shot Susan, Alison and Alison’s 24 year old daughter Tanya, before killing himself.
On New Year’s Day, Aaron Mann, 31 repeatedly hit Claire O’Connor, 38, with a blunt object before smothering her with a pillow. Her badly beaten body was found wrapped in her son’s sleeping bag and covered in a sheet in the boot of her car on January 2.
On 3rd of January John McGrory used a dog lead to strangle 39-year-old Marie McGrory. Garry Kane, 41, killed his 87-year-old grandmother Kathleen Milward, though 15 blunt force trauma" injuries on her head and neck.
So, by the end of the third day of January 2012, seven women in the UK had been 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. 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. (See my blog kareningalasmith.com for more information)
At first I counted women killed through domestic violence. Then, on March 9th 2012, Ahmad Otak stabbed and killed Samantha Sykes, 18 and Kimberley Frank, 17. Otak wasn’t the boyfriend of either of them, but of Eliza Frank, Kimberley’s sister. After killing Kimberly and Samantha in front of Eliza, he abducted Eliza and drove to Dover in an attempt to escape to France. 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. Their deaths made it clear to me that concentrating on what we see as domestic violence isn’t enough. It’s wider than that. The murders of Kimberley and Samantha by were no less about male violence against women that they would have been if he had been the boyfriend of one of them.
Then there’s Andrew Flood, a taxi-driver who strangled and robbed Margaret Biddolph, 78 and Annie Leyland, 88. When I learned he’d also robbed a third woman it was clear to me that there was a pattern to his actions. In fact, last year, five older women, aged between 75 and 88 were killed by much younger men, aged between 15 and 43 as they were robbed or mugged, including Irene Lawless, 68 who was raped, beaten and strangled by 26-year-old Darren Martin. The murders of Margaret, Annie and Irene were not any less about misogyny, than those of women killed by someone they were related to. So my list doesn’t just include women killed though domestic violence. We have to stop seeing the killings of women by men as isolated incidents. We have to put them together. We have to stop ignoring the connections and patterns.
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 killer
2. It doesn’t connect the different forms of male violence against women
3. It dehumanises women.
The statistic ‘on average two women a week are killed through domestic violence in England and Wales’ is well known but we don't seem to feel horror in our response to this. The murders of some women barely cause a murmur; lots don’t make it into the national media. And so the connections, the horror, the patterns, the deaths continue in silence. Unnoticed. Ignored.
Ultimately, I want to see men stop killing women.
I have launched this campaign, "Counting Dead Women" because 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 Domestic Homicide Review reports to be accessible from a single central source. I want to see a homicide review for every sexist murder. I want the government to fund an independently run 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. And I think the government should be recording and commemorating women killed through male violence – not me, a lone woman in a bedroom in east London
Let’s start counting dead women, not ignoring them. If you want us as a society, the press and the government to stop ignoring dead women, if you want us to find ways to stop women being killed, please join me, add your voice and sign this petition.
Follow this campaign on twitter @CountDeadWomen
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