Number of women killed by a partner or ex rises by almost a third, figures show

'Our continued failure to act is having fatal consequences,' says campaigner

Maya Oppenheim
Women's Correspondent
Thursday 13 February 2020 12:32 GMT
The new figures have sparked fresh concern around the issue of domestic abuse among charities which help women fleeing their abusers
The new figures have sparked fresh concern around the issue of domestic abuse among charities which help women fleeing their abusers

The number of women killed by a partner or ex has risen by almost a third in just one year, new figures show.

Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show 80 women were killed by a current or ex-partner between April 2018 and March 2019 – a 27 per cent increase on the year before.

The number of female victims of overall homicides in England and Wales rose by 10 per cent in the year up to March 2019 – the highest number for 13 years.

Almost half of these female victims were killed in a domestic homicide – with the suspect being a partner or ex-partner in 38 per cent of cases.

The new figures have sparked fresh concern around the issue of domestic abuse among charities helping women fleeing their abusers.

Hannah Gousy, of leading homelessness charity Crisis, said: “These figures are a devastating reminder of why it is so important for women experiencing domestic violence to have somewhere safe to escape to, and how our continued failure to act is having fatal consequences.

“We know that leaving an abuser can be one of the most dangerous times, but currently we are leaving women with no option but to return to the very place and person they were trying to flee from, because they have nowhere else to go. This is truly shameful, we can and must do better than this.

“The government must act now. The forthcoming domestic abuse bill is the chance to fundamentally change one of the biggest barriers for people fleeing domestic abuse by guaranteeing survivors a safe, settled home. We cannot continue putting lives in danger.”

Domestic abuse victims are not automatically entitled to a safe home from their local council and frontline service providers frequently encounter women who are forced to return their abusive partners to avoid being pushed onto the streets.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of Refuge, the UK’s largest provider of shelters for domestic abuse victims, said the latest statistics demonstrate violence against women and girls continues to be a “scourge on society” which leads to women being harmed and killed at “an alarming rate”.

She said: “On average, two women every week across England and Wales are killed by a current or former partner. Women’s lives are lost to male violence, leaving children without mothers, parents without daughters, families without loved ones. This must serve as a stark reminder to government and law enforcement alike that domestic abuse is a crime, must be taken more seriously and addressed with urgency.”

The new data comes after frontline services recently told The Independent European nationals who have suffered domestic abuse face being pushed onto the streets as Brexit is carried out.

Sophie Walker, chief executive of Young Women’s Trust, which helps young women on low or no pay, condemned the latest figures and argued violence against women and girls is “cause and consequence of women’s inequality”.

She added: “It is built into and results from an unequal society and an unequal economy and a judicial system that too often blames women for the violence they experience.”

Alex Mayes, of Victim Support, said the new figures were “deeply disturbing” and his charity witnesses the “devastating” impact of domestic homicides on both relatives and the wider community when working with “families bereaved by murder and manslaughter”.

He added: “These statistics highlight the fatal impact of domestic abuse, and show how much more needs to be done to tackle abuse and keep victims safe.”

Anyone who requires help or support can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline which is open 24/7 365 days per year on 0808 2000 247 or via their website

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