The latest census on femicide – women killed by men – has shown that during 2017, a staggering 139 women in the UK died as a result of male violence. But nobody joined the dots between these cases except for feminists campaigning against male violence towards women. Despite there being an obvious link between the misogynistic culture under which brutal – and often fatal – male violence occurs, the UK government has never made the connection that these women die because men’s violence towards women and girls is a global pandemic.
The resistance to legally making misogyny a hate crime (currently under review) is partly down to the fact that it is such a huge everyday reality that it seems impossible to enforce. If the police did their job and treated every domestic violence incident as a potential fatality, we might prevent some deaths of vulnerable women and children. But to end the deaths of women relating to domestic violence, there needs to be a robust criminal justice response that intervenes at the earliest stages.
Karen Ingala Smith, one of the authors of the report and founder of the brilliant campaign Counting Dead Women, has become friends with some of the family members of the victims and sees how their pain never goes away: “I watch the anniversaries of the murder of their daughter/sister/aunt come around and the never-ending awfulness. It breaks my heart to see it”.
Between 2015 and 2017, some 55 women were killed despite having previously reported their murderers to the police for threatening behaviour, according to freedom of information reports. There is a clear connection between different forms of men’s violence against women. Domestic violence, sexual assault and prostitution come from the same place of male entitlement, ownership and access. If we really want to end male violence towards women, we need to think radically.