A campaigner who has helped to compile a ‘femicide census’ of women killed by men has called for better support for those escaping domestic violence.
Karen Ingala Smith, from Huddersfield, began a project called Counting Dead Women in 2012 in a bid to better understand the extent of male violence and how it might be tackled.
She discovered that the victims were often forgotten, becoming “nothing more than a grim statistic” while men’s violence wasn’t addressed.
The latest census report, written by Deirdre Brennan, reveals that between 2009 and 2015, 936 women were killed by men in England and Wales.
Of those, 64% were killed by their current or former partners and 8% were killed by their sons.
Karen, chief executive of the charity nia, is calling for specialist domestic abuse and sexual violence services to have long-term funding.
She and fellow campaigners at Women’s Aid want the authorities to recognise that post-separation is a high risk period for women leaving abusive relationships.
Karen said: “The seven police forces with the highest rates of femicide are all in the north of England, with West Yorkshire having the seventh highest rate of the 42 police force areas in England and Wales.”
There could be many different reasons for this, she said.
According to the survey, there were 50 femicides in West Yorkshire between 2009 and 2015, the fourth highest of all police force areas.
Karen said: “We know that policing alone won’t end men’s violence against women and girls, but identifying the different rates of fatalities by police force areas may help constabularies compare the impact of different approaches to, and different levels of, resourcing for men’s violence against women and girls.”
She is also campaigning for funding for projects which assist women exiting prostitution.
“It’s also important to remember that the femicide census is not just about women killed by their partners or ex-partners.
“Growing up in Huddersfield in the 1970s and 1980s, when Peter Sutcliffe murdered at least 13 women, it was impossible not to be aware of the broader picture.
“We know that he targeted women in prostitution and that women in prostitution continue to be exposed to men’s violence.
“It’s just under a year since 23-year-old Daria Pionko was murdered in the so-called ‘managed prostitution area’ in Leeds, and several other of the 21 women killed in prostitution were killed in West Yorkshire.
“There’s no such thing as safe prostitution. In itself it is financially compensated rape and it contributes to a situation where men see women as commodities. This is another area where I’d like to see change.”
Karen said a survey in 2015 showed that refuges were turning many women away due to a lack of space.