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Paul T Horgan: Male or female, all murder victims are equal


The Guardian is up in arms again. ‘“Shocking” toll of women killed by men renews call for safe spaces’, screams the headline. The article reports on a ‘census’ by the charity Women’s Aid. The facts it has produced are disturbing.

Of the 113 women killed by men in England, Wales and Northern Ireland last year, 85 died in their homes, it states. Nine in ten women killed during 2016 died at the hands of someone they knew.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: ‘More needs to be done to address men’s fatal violence against women, as once again the Femicide Census reveals fatalities not as isolated incidents but as part of a repeated pattern of male violence against women.’ Thus all men are once again condemned. All women are their potential victims.

These are unpleasant statistics. Women do not deserve to be murdered, let alone assaulted. But the statistics quoted do not tell the whole story. In fact, no one deserves to be murdered or assaulted. Who knew? And as for a ‘Femicide Census’, it is difficult to see what this ‘census’ actually is other than selective quotation from official statistics. Except that the official homicide statistics for the year ending March 2017 have not been published.

Proper statistics come from the Office for National Statistics. They cover England and Wales for the year to March 2016. They are official and comprehensive. They provide a different picture.

There were 571 homicides (murder, manslaughter and infanticide) in the year ending March 2016 in England and Wales. There were 9.9 offences of homicide per million population, and the homicide rate by males (13.8 per million) was more than twice that by females (6.0 per million).

But here is the clincher: While women were far more likely than men to be killed by partners or ex-partners (44 per cent of female victims compared with 7 per cent of male victims), men were more likely than women to be killed by friends or acquaintances (35 per cent of male victims compared with 13 per cent of female victims).

All this puts the murder statistics in perspective. Yes, men kill more than women do, but men kill way more men than they kill women. Male victims also know their male attackers in reasonable percentages. This is ignored by Women’s Aid. More than twice as many men are killed than women. More men than women are killed by men they know. Apparently this is not shocking enough for the Guardian.

The problem is not actually violence against women by men, but violence by men. Women are not special victims of men. Some men are violent. Note that there is no men’s group asking for ‘safe spaces’ for male victims of violence committed by men. Perhaps the difference is the fact that the women killed are or were in sexual relationships with their attackers. This only means that the relationships between male victims and their killers are not sexual. But a sexual relationship is just a subset in the group of social relationships. In this age of ‘equality’, surely it makes sense to consider all relationships as alike? Women’s Aid does not think so. It regards heterosexual relationships as more important than others when women are killed. It seems it is only in homicide that this is important, but perhaps it is because it can be used to discredit heterosexuality.

The problem with using statistics selectively is that it promotes disproportionate responses. There is a small group of men who will murder people in their social circle. That is the most reasonable interpretation of the statistics. Not all men murder. It is unfair and discriminatory to protect only women when twice as many men are being killed every year. However Women’s Aid does not focus on the big picture, and it demonises all men in the process as potential killers. Certainly it does not drill down into the backgrounds of the killers, simply stating: ‘The abuse of women occurs across society, through all classes, in all communities, across each religion, race, ethnicity and culture, and at all ages’, reinforcing the bogus mantra that all men everywhere are to blame. This is despite the fact that this country has experienced large-scale migration from countries where women are second-rate citizens, with entrenched cultures of rape, mutilation and murder. Women’s Aid seems to demonstrate a similar kind of mentality to that which saw hundreds of girls raped thousands of times in Rotherham.

The report appears to have been compiled from Freedom of Information requests to the police, some of which were partially declined, so the figures are incomplete. Despite this, Women’s Aid feels confident to make pronouncements. The background of the victims is also incomplete. In 2015, only nine out of 119 female murder victims were classed as White British, compared with 24 for ‘no FOI response’, and 23 for ‘unknown’. There might be a disproportionate cultural background to the murders which has not been properly explored, certainly not by Women’s Aid. It is far easier to blame the entire male sex in the UK instead.

Homicide is a universal problem. It makes sense to focus on specific types of killings, but not one to the exclusion of others and not on the basis of incomplete or misleading statistics. However Women’s Aid fails the public when it tries to assert that some killings are more important than others. More men than women are the victims of homicide. More men than women know their killers socially. According to Women’s Aid and the Guardian, the death toll of men is not ‘shocking’. That alone is quite shocking. Once again, it is men who are the real victims here.

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Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan worked in the IT Sector. He lives in Berkshire.

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