62 women were killed between 2009-2018 in the area covered by Thames Valley police – the 6th highest in UK femicide numbers over 10 years. Most were killed by an abusive partner or ex, and many were killed after a campaign of abuse and stalking against them. Yet of the 21 MPs who represent the area policed by Thames Valley, only 4 voted to enact measures in the forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill that would introduce a national approach to managing serial perpetrators of domestic abuse and stalking, including a registry, that could prevent future deaths of more Thames Valley women.
We see a similar pattern across great swathes of the East, South East and South West of the UK where (excluding London) 408 women were killed by men in the last 10 years (just under 1/3 of the UK total). These women lived in constituencies that returned 173 Conservative MPs and only 23 MPs from other parties, yet it is only those 23 opposition MPs that are willing to enact legislation that will go a long way to prevent future killings of their own constituents. 124 women named in the Femicide Census lived in areas covered by the police forces of Essex, West Mercia, Dorset. Suffolk, Surrey and Wiltshire that do not have a single opposition MP. So far every Conservative MP that represents constituencies in these police force areas has voted against the registry. That could change today, there is a last ditch opportunity for the Government to agree measures to include serial stalking and domestic abuse perpetrators in a database the Government has signalled it seems prepared to commit to in developments over the weekend.
The pressure is on. It is far too late to save Kerry Power from Exeter who was killed in 2013 by her ex-partner and who only this week Devon and Cornwall police announced a complete overhaul of its treatment of stalking and harassment policies following official criticism of its handling of Kerry’s case. Between 2009-2018, 38 women were killed in the area covered by Devon and Cornwall police, making it the 8th highest in the UK, but only 1 MP out of 18 that represent the area voted to have a serial perpetrator abuse and stalking registry. But maybe today they might understand how important this is to save future lives.
Shana Grice was fined by Sussex police for reporting her stalker to them 5 times, before he slit her throat in 2017. 30 women were killed in Sussex, but only 2 out of 16 MPs from across the Sussex area voted to prevent future deaths like Shana’s. Or the case of Molly McLaren in Essex who was stabbed 76 times following a campaign of harassment and stalking by a new partner. As there are no opposition MPs, every single MP in Essex voted against the registry, yet with 36 women killed by men, Essex has the 9th highest Femicide numbers in the country.
MPs are supposed to represent their constituents, and in doing so perhaps make efforts to understand a little of their lives, and the nature of their deaths, in order to enact legislation that will improve their lives and prevent future harm. The much needed Domestic Abuse Bill will come into force under a Conservative Government and this is to be lauded. But if MPs are following party lines about which provisions are included in the legislation there is serious doubt that it will go far enough to tackle the harm it is being enacted to prevent. In areas where there are few, or no opposition MPs who is representing these women? Men’s violence against women cuts across class, race or political boundaries. Abuse doesn’t only happen to opposition voters. But attitudes towards men’s violence and critically the State’s response to tackling the problem starkly reflects those distinctions. There is now a whole swathe of the UK where women know that the vast majority of MPs that represent them will play party politics and could continue to refuse to enact provisions that recognises the fatal harm of serial perpetrators to the hundreds of women killed across their constituencies. These MPs have one last chance this week to show that they understand the reality of their constituents lives, and critically the circumstances of their deaths.