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Femicide census details how many UK women die

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UK femicide census launched, Karen Ingala Smith, Polly Neate, names of women killedThe UK’s first census of women killed by men was launched last week.

Femicide is generally defined as the murder of women because they are women, although some definitions include any murders of women or girls.

Femicide has also been used to describe killings of women by intimate partners and family members; and it has also been used to describe gender related killings in the community.

In the United Kingdom on average two women have been killed by their male partners or former partners each week over the last ten years.

Frequently these murders have been premeditated and follow a pattern of violence and abuse that has terrorised the victim.

The Femicide Census includes a wide range of information about women in the UK who have been killed by fatal male violence.

It names the perpetrators and the incident of murder itself, including the date, names, police force area, and information about children, recorded motive and the weapon used.

Data shows 46 per cent of women in the census were killed by an intimate partner or ex-partner, 6 per cent by their son, 3 per cent by extended family and 3 per cent during a burglary.

The term femicide was introduced in the last century to describe killings of women that were gender related in order to recognise the impact of inequality and discrimination, identified internationally as a root cause of violence against women.

But although femicide has been identified globally as a leading a cause of premature death for women there is limited research on the issue in Europe.

Much of the information currently found in the Femicide Census was initially based on the list of names collected by Karen Ingala Smith for her blog Counting Dead Women, which she started in January 2012.

She searched the web for news of women who had been killed by men so her data was gathered from publicly available sources, primarily press articles.

“People reel off statistics without thinking about the individuals.

“Through naming the women and including pictures I’m trying to make the horror of what is happening feel more real.

“I want it to be upsetting – this should be absolutely shocking,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“I want us to stop seeing these killings as isolated incidents and to see the connections and patterns because you cannot solve a problem unless you understand it.”

Freedom of Information Act (FoI) requests were subsequently made to police departments, local authorities and other public bodies throughout England which served to (a) verify certain information that had been collected and (b) identify new victims who had not been identified.

Data was also collected from publicly available sources such as the press and the NHS Trust England website.

The aim of the Femicide Census is to:

Provide a clearer picture of domestic homicides in the UK by age/ethnic origin/ relationship/ profession/region/outcome;

Provide a clearer picture of incidences of men’s fatal violence against women that is not committed by a partner or ex-partner;

Allow campaigners to utilise the information to create advocacy tools to provide concrete data on domestic violence homicides;

Provide data when NGOs working to end domestic violence against women are providing expert evidence on domestic homicides in civil cases or before the Coroner’s court;

Allow campaigners to draw comparisons and parallels between cases and identify where there is the potential for a systemic argument against the State for failing to protect the Right to Life; and

Provide a resource for academics researching femicides.

The Global Study on Homicide in 2011 indicated that while there has been a decrease in homicides worldwide there has been an increased in the number of femicides.

And in the UK, the most recent ONS figures show that 1.4 million women suffered domestic abuse in the year to March 2014, up 1.4 per cent from the previous year – and the report remarks that these rates remain stubbornly high, although violent crime more generally has continued to fall.

“We are launching the Femicide Census to identify common themes so that we can learn from them, and so that we can reduce deaths by working with all relevant agencies and professionals to better protect women,” Polly Neate chief executive of Women’s Aid, told Yahoo News.

“We need to know what happened to these women before their deaths – for example if there were previous reports of domestic violence, if they had previous contact with the police or other agencies, but the warning signs were not picked up on.”

Anyone with information on cases where women have been killed by men can – please do – get in touch to add further information to help make the Census as complete as possible.

Anyone who wants to help can find more information on the Women’s Aid website.

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