2020 and 2019 Femicide Census Reports
Over a two-year period 238 women were killed where a man was charged in the UK. As many as 29% of those 2020 cases where a woman has been killed and a man has been charged, or is the primary suspect, have still not come to trial.
Clarrie O’Callaghan, co-founder of the Femicide Census explained,
“The criminal justice system was already struggling to cope prior to the pandemic as a result of “reforms” and cuts, the knock-on effects of the pandemic have exacerbated these delays. We waited for a clearer picture, however, we can no longer delay publication as to do so contributes to a lack of accountability and focus on men’s violence against women. But these delays in the justice system, which cannot only be attributed to COVID, need addressed urgently as “justice delayed is justice denied,” particularly for the families and friends of the victims.”
As a result, data are therefore presented slightly differently in this report, and in some cases with more “unknown” variables as it is often only through the criminal justice process where factors, including the true relationship or lack of it between the perpetrator and the victim, come to light.
The Femicide Census includes all forms of men’s fatal violence against women, reporting not only on intimate partner violence. The reporting period 2019 and 2020 includes the killings of Nicole Smallman and Biba Henry which garnered vast media and public attention. They involved stranger killings which is a significant, though still rather smaller percentage (usually between 8 and 12%), of killings of women by men and these killings also revealed appalling police failings.
The reporting period also covers the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns which exacerbated inequalities across all sections of society and in individual, country-wide responses.
2020, finds the lowest numbers of women killed by men since our records began – in 2009. This is largely driven by a reduction in the number of women recorded as killed by current or former partners. Data for the 10 years ending in 2018 showed that on average, 89 women (62% of all women killed by men) were killed by current or former partners every year. In 2019 this was 65 women (51% of all women killed by men) and in 2020, the number was 27 women (51% of all women killed by men).
The Femicide Census has consistently shown that separation is a risk factor for intimate partner femicides, or more accurately, a trigger for violent, abusive and/or controlling men. Lockdown and the restrictions to movement in response to the COVID pandemic made it more difficult for women to leave abusive men. Between 2018 and 2009, on average 43% of all women killed by current or former partners had left or were in the process of leaving. In 2020, evidence of separation was reported in 37% of intimate partner femicides.
Karen Ingala Smith, co-founder of the Femicide Census said:
“While it is good to see that lockdown may have increased coverage and awareness of men’s violence against women, men who abuse women take advantage of opportunities to exert power, control, abuse and violence within and outside the home, and then use the same things as excuses for their actions and choices. We should be wary of too easily buying into excuses which can enable a lack of accountability for perpetrators. The husbands of Ruth Williams and Maryan Ismail for instance used the stress of covid and lockdown in their defences against murder charges. All too often, the justice system and wider society, are quick to accept such lazy, easy excuses as blame is attached to anyone and anything besides the choices of the perpetrator.”
Karen Ingala Smith’s work on Counting Dead Women has already shown that the number of women killed by a male suspect in 2021 is 140, higher than the number of women killed in 2019 and 2020, this may increase when we receive responses to our FOI requests to the police. It remains to be seen what is behind the increase, but we will be paying close attention to intimate partner femicides and the role of separation.
As long ago as 1903 the Women’s Social and Political Union, born out of the movement for women’s suffrage, established a rallying cry of “Deeds not Words”. Karen Ingala Smith and Clarrie O’Callaghan, Femicide Census founders, say this is still what is needed as, despite acres of news coverage, various statements by politicians and tweaks to the laws, the figures for men killing women remain unchanged with one woman killed by a man every three days in the UK.
“We want the state to be accountable for preventing and prosecuting men’s violence against women. We want perpetrators brought to justice but better still, we want the killing of women by men, femicide, to stop. We consistently find that men are killing women at the same rate, with the same methods, in the same relationships and patterns and with the same excuses. There are no excuses, it can and must stop but that takes, as sisters who went before us have always said, “Deeds not Words.” “