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Report details patterns in murders of women

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Karen Ingala Smith, Femicide Census, report, 2016, women killed by menOver the last ten years on average two women have been killed by their male partners or former partners each week.

The first Femicide Census report for 2016 was published recently.

It revealed that 113 women were killed by men in England, Wales and Northern Ireland between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2016.

It also revealed that nine in ten of the women killed during 2016 were killed by someone they knew; 78 women were killed by their current or former intimate partner and 65 of that 78 were killed in their own home or the home they shared with the perpetrator.

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

Femicide has been identified globally as a leading a cause of premature death for women, yet research on the issue in Europe is limited.

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.

The Femicide Census information comes from a database containing information on the over one thousand women killed by men in England and Wales since 2009.

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

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

The Femicide Census was launched in February 2015. It was based on information collected by Karen Ingala Smith and recorded in her blog Counting Dead Women.

She has been searching the web for news of women killed by men since January 2012, collecting information that was hidden in plain sight – in a plethora of Domestic Homicide Reviews, police statistics, local press articles and reports in which women killed by men were mentioned.

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

This provides a clearer picture of men’s fatal violence against women by providing detailed tracking and analysis of such incidents, and it could play a key part in the identification of patterns of femicide, the circumstances leading up to it and ultimately help reduce femicide.

By collating femicides, we can see that these killings are not isolated incidents – too many of them follow a repeated pattern.

Many were committed in similar locations, a sharp instrument was used as a weapon in 47 cases, and the majority of women killed by men were killed by a current or former intimate partner – although men’s fatal violence against women does extend beyond violence in intimate partner relationships.

The Femicide Census report found that between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2016:

113 women were killed by men in England, Wales and Northern Ireland;

Nine in ten (88 per cent or 100) of women killed by men were killed by someone they knew, 9 women were killed by a stranger;

Three quarters (75 per cent or 85) of all women killed by men were killed at their own home;

Over two thirds (69 per cent or 78) of women killed by men were killed by a current or former intimate partner;

83 per cent or 65 of women killed by a current or former intimate partner were killed at their own home or the home they shared with the perpetrator;

23 women killed by men were killed by either a stranger or someone they knew who wasn’t an intimate partner or male family member. Over half of these women (12) were killed at their own homes by either a neighbour, acquaintance, stranger or by the (ex-) partner of their daughter;

Over three quarters (77 per cent or 24) of women killed by a former intimate partner were killed within the first year of separation; and

In 47 cases, perpetrators used a sharp instrument to kill the victim.

Ingala Smith said: “When we look at crime statistics, whether in relation to sexual violence, child sex abuse, prostitution or domestic violence and abuse, too often the disparity in the sexes of the victim and perpetrator is not made clear.

“This prevents us from being able to see the full extent and reach of men’s violence against women and girls.

“The Femicide Census is a very significant exception to this.

“Men are killing women and girls; most often women and girls that they are related to.

“Nine out of ten women killed by men in the census were killed by someone they knew. Over three quarters by a current or former partner.

“Every woman killed was important,” she continued.

“But when we think about women killed by men, it’s important that we don’t forget about women who were killed by a man who wasn’t a partner.

“In 2016 they included a 30 year-old woman who was sexually assaulted and killed as she walked to work, a 20 year-old woman who suffered 60 separate injuries as she was raped and murdered by a delusional sexual predator who had promised to help her get home safely, and an 81 year-old woman who was battered on the head and set alight by an intruder in her home.

“Men’s fatal violence against women extends beyond their partners and families.

“By breaking the barriers through which we contextualise violent crime, we’re able to build a different picture, a broader picture, about what causes and influences violence – violence that is largely perpetrated by men.

“Our work was cited as a good practice example by the United Nations.

“I really hope that the lessons that can be learned from The Femicide Census are taken seriously.”

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: “More needs to be done to address men’s fatal violence against women, as once again the Femicide Census reveals fatalities not as isolated incidents but as part of a repeated pattern of male violence against women.

“Shockingly, in 2016, over two thirds of women killed by a men were killed by a current or former intimate partner; 83 per cent of these women were killed at their own home or the home they shared with the perpetrator.

“The government must urgently put the prevention of femicide at the centre of its work to combat male violence against women and girls.

“Every woman should be safe in her own home,” Ghose added.

“Until that day, refuges are a vital lifeline, not an optional extra; they are not just a bed for a night but essential for women to safely escape domestic abuse and rebuild their lives away from the perpetrator.

“A crucial part of preventing more fatalities must be to ensure sufficient provision for domestic abuse and sexual violence services, including refuges.

“Yet the government’s proposed changes to supported housing funding for refuges plan to remove refuges’ last secure form of funding.

“Demand for refuges already far outstrips supply and the proposed funding model could be the breaking point.

“Refuges will be faced with the awful reality of either turning more women away or closing their doors forever.

“Only by creating a long-term and sustainable funding model for a national network of refuges can we ensure that every woman can safely escape domestic abuse.

“Without a safe space to escape to, more women will be killed by men they know.

“The government must act now.”

To read the full report, click here.

Please forward it to your MP.

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