Data Matters – Every Woman Matters

One of the most depressing findings of the Femicide Census is that the rate of men’s fatal violence against women in the UK has not shown a tangible decline since the first year we monitored, 2009. The number of women killed by men has hovered between 124 and 168 a year. On average, 62% of these women will have been killed by a current or former partner.

Most people have very little idea of the rate of men’s fatal violence against women. If they do, they are most likely to tell you ‘two women a week’ (in England d and Wales) are killed by a current or former partner. Some might even cite the Office of National Statistics (ONS) as the source. There’s just one problem: it hasn’t been true since the year ending March 2009 and over the last 20 years, it has only been true 4 times.  One of the problems with looking at data that varies by up to a third year on year is that an average based on one year has always the potential to be unrepresentative, so data averaged out over a number of years is more useful.

If you look at ONS data for the last 10-years, on average 1.53 women a week in England and Wales have been killed by a current or former partner[1][2]. Sure, it’s mathematical convention to round 1.53 up to 2. The thing is, if you do that, by implication you’re saying that 104 women a year are killed, but over the last 10 years the average is 80 women a year in England and Wales according to ONS figures. 80 women a year, or according to the Femicide Census, 888 women in 10 years across the UK killed by a current or former partner is still unacceptable.

At the Femicide Census, we recognise that women living with and/or moving on from men’s violence, be it sexual or domestic violence and abuse, prostitution and others (and often these overlap) need specialist tailored support and advice, one-size fits all solutions fit no-one. But when we’re looking at the causes of men’s violence and therefore the solutions, it is most effective if we look at how these manifestations are connected as well as the differences between them. If 62% of women killed by a man are killed by a partner that means that 38% are not – and we refuse to overlook the killings of these women.

It’s important to remember that these are the women we know about. The Femicide Census, 10-year report focuses on 1,425 women killed by a man between 2009 and 2018. On top of this there are another 117 women who suffered suspicious deaths in the same time period[3] whom for various reasons we could not include in the main report. Criminologist Jane Moncton Smith argues that ‘we will never have an accurate figure because we don’t count sudden and unexpected deaths in a domestic abuse context’ and estimates that we could potentially double the number of homicides currently recorded.

Numbers matter – and when we can be accurate, it’s important that we are. The Femicide Census shows that a woman has been killed by a man, on average, once every 3 days, over a 10-year period.  If we focus on women killed by current or former partners only, it’s one woman every four days.  More importantly, the Femicide Census remembers that ‘the numbers’ represent real women.  That’s why, every year in our annual report (and indeed in the 10-year report), the women whose deaths are included in our figures are named and honoured as women. Women count. Each and every one.

[1]  (sex of partner not specified but the numbers of women killed by a female current or former partner are less than an average of one a year).
[2] https://www.ons.gov.uk/file?uri=/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/datasets/appendixtableshomicideinenglandandwales/current/homicideinewyemar20.xlsx
[3] See page 120 of the 10 year report for more information

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