MPs listen in silence as names of women killed in the UK read out

Labour’s Jess Phillips spent more than five minutes listing the names of the victims during the annual International Women’s Day debate.

Richard Wheeler
Thursday 10 March 2022 15:32
Shadow minister for domestic violence Jess Phillips read out the names of dead women in the Commons (Yui Mok/PA)
Shadow minister for domestic violence Jess Phillips read out the names of dead women in the Commons (Yui Mok/PA)

The House of Commons listened in silence as the names of more than 120 women killed in the UK in the last year were read out.

Labour’s Jess Phillips spent almost five-and-a-half minutes listing the names of the victims from the last 12 months where a male suspect has been charged or identified.

The list is painfully long but in reality the list is much longer. We can make it shorter, let's act faster

Jess Phillips

Relatives of Ellie Gould, 17, and Poppy Devey Waterhouse, 24, who were both murdered by their ex-boyfriends, watched on from one of the galleries in the Commons.

The MP for Birmingham Yardley concluded by telling the chamber: “The list is painfully long but in reality the list is much longer. We can make it shorter, let’s act faster.”

Ms Phillips, who reads out the latest list during the annual International Women’s Day debate, said: “The act of remembrance here every year is completely down to the work of Karen Ingala Smith and the Counting Dead Women project.

“She’s the only person keeping this data but her painstaking work over many years has meant that unlike seven years ago, when I first read this list, we are all more aware of the peril of femicide.

“This wasn’t the Government doing the work, it was women giving their labour away for free.”

Ms Phillips said she has invited the families of the women she has named over the years to visit Parliament.

She added: “Myself and the Labour Party will be working with them to build up a families manifesto for change.”

Ms Phillips said they have stories to tell about their daughters being murdered, including killings that were not investigated because the woman had taken drugs.

She added excuses used by perpetrators to get a lighter sentence are used to “victim blame and diminish” a woman’s innocence when applied to her during the “trial of her own death”.

Ms Phillips said: “Every name I’m about to read there will be a story about how better mental health services, even the slightest suggestion of offender management or the availability of quick specialist victims’ support, would have saved their lives.

“The perpetrators killed but it is on us in here if we keep allowing a system where women live under the requirement to give away their labour for free in the pursuit of their own safety.”

In a nod to Sarah Everard, who was murdered by a serving Metropolitan Police officer, Ms Phillips said: “The final name on the list last year when I stood here was a name that we all know. Here are the names of the women killed since that supposedly watershed moment.”

Ms Phillips said two of the women were unnamed and also named partners and children also killed.

She concluded by naming three women killed in the last month where no suspect has been charged, adding: “And finally to mention Jomaa Jerrare, whose body was dumped and set on fire in a layby last August and nobody has been charged with her murder.

“Many women like Jomaa don’t appear on our lists because no-one is ever charged with their killing or because they die by staged homicide and sudden death – falling from a building, overdose or suicide and we never look into the history of domestic abuse in their cases.

“The list is painfully long but in reality the list is much longer. We can make it shorter, let’s act faster.”

Ms Ingala Smith, of the Counting Dead Women project, wrote on Twitter: “Even though I put that list together, it makes me weep to hear you read their names in parliament.”

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