‘You were told’: Killed Women report shows deaths could have been prevented | Women #told #Killed #Women #report #shows #deaths #prevented #Women

When the police arrived at Kimberley Seeger’s house to tell her that her sister, Gemma Marjoram, had died of stab wounds, she was so overcome with anger that she collapsed on the floor. “I screamed, I cried and I blamed them. I said, ‘this is your fault’.”

Marjoram had been murdered by her ex-partner, Michael Cowey, after a seven-year relationship with a man who exerted coercive control, including controlling her phone and finances and trapping her in the house. He had been arrested several times for his abusive behaviour towards her, and to other women previously, yet the police did not consider her to be at high risk.

Seeger felt that there were “missed opportunities” to prevent the murder because the abuse had been emotional rather than violent, and therefore less visible.

Knowing that Marjoram’s death could have been prevented deepens the family’s pain, yet a report by the Killed Women campaign suggests this is alarmingly common in femicide cases.

Two-thirds of 115 bereaved families surveyed by Ipsos thought the fatal attack on their loved one had been very or fairly preventable, while just 4% thought the killing could not have been prevented.

The report was published alongside a vigil in which emotional relatives gathered to express their anger with the systemic failures around their loved ones’ deaths.

Outside of the Houses of Parliament, Seeger and her mother, Linda Smith, planted a placard stating “you were told”, in reference to the police’s failure to act, alongside those from other families.

“We’re stuck. We’ll never be unstuck. All losses are sad but this loss is completely different. My baby has been stolen from me, ripped from me, that’s how it feels. Our whole lives are now completely turned upside down. It’s never-ending trauma,” said Smith.

She is also angry at Cowey’s 23-year sentence, seeing it as “not justice” when compared with the tougher sentences handed out for stranger homicide. But she is most distressed that Marjoram’s killer was released on bail after threatening her, even though it is known that “the most dangerous time is when you leave the relationship”.

Also present at the vigil was Nour Norris, who held a placard saying “the police never came”, in reference to the murder of her sister, Khaola Saleem, and niece, Raneem Oudeh. Her niece had called about her abusive ex-partner 15 times, and was finally stabbed to death by Janbaz Tarin, while on the phone begging for help. Her sister was then killed “trying to do the police’s job” and save her daughter.

“All the police officers who attended the trial at the inquest they didn’t have a clue what domestic abuse was. There wasn’t sufficient training for that from junior offices all the way to the seniors. They had no idea,” she said.

Norris added that there had been a failure to share information between different services.

The Killed Women report concluded that many families had felt that opportunities to stop the killing were missed, with nearly four-fifths (78%) of respondents who said there was a history of abuse towards the victim reporting that at least one service knew about the abuse prior to the killing.

Anna Ryder, director of Killed Women and the report’s co-author, said it painted a “bleak” picture. “For too long the killing of women has been seen as tragic but unavoidable; acts of violence to be expected and accepted. We need policy and action that focuses on prevention and intervention to stop these terrible crimes happening; and a justice system that responds with absolute intolerance when they do.”

Most (90%) of the bereaved families surveyed who saw a conviction felt the prison sentence was too short, did not reflect the brutality of the murders, nor the impact on the bereaved family or the risk posed to society.

Yasmin Javed, whose daughter Fawziyah Javed died after she was pushed off Arthur’s Seat, the Edinburgh hill, when she was 17 weeks’ pregnant and planning to leave an eight-month abusive marriage, said she wanted to see longer sentences. “I think 20 years minimum is ridiculous,” she said.

She too felt there had been missteps by the police, for example not warning Javed that she was more at risk due to her pregnancy, or advising her against accompanying her partner, Kashif Anwar, to Edinburgh.

“I think they saw Fawziyah as a lawyer, very capable, articulate, assertive, she maybe didn’t fall into their stereotype. But abuse can happen to anyone,” she said.

“It’s destroyed my family’s life for ever, we wake up broken, we go to sleep broken. We’re not living anymore, we’re just existing.”

#told #Killed #Women #report #shows #deaths #prevented #Women

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