CArole Gould’s 17-year-old daughter, Ellie, was murdered by another sixth-former the day after she ended their relationship in 2019. Julie Devey’s daughter Poppy Devey Waterhouse, 24, was stabbed 49 times by her ex-boyfriend in 2018. Emma Ambler’s twin brother, Kelly Fitzgibbons, 40, and her nieces, Ava, 4, and Lexi, 2, were shot by their husband and father in 2020. Bekhal Mahmod has been in hiding since she testified against her father and uncle who murdered her 20-year-old sister, Banaz, in 2006.
Until recently, all these women had grief in common, but now they have united to become a powerful force for change in the UK, where every three days a woman is killed by a man.
The families, 11 in all, have launched Killed Women, a campaign organization led by families of women killed by men, in an effort to force change.
The range of policy demands the group is fighting for is diverse – from stricter rules around gun buying to better education about domestic violence and coercive control – but they will speak as one voice. “We don’t want any more sympathy,” said Carole Gould. “We don’t want promises. We actually want change, we want action.”
Gould has been campaigning with Julie Devey since 2020 to change the minimum sentence for in-home murder. A government review is under way to see if it is correct that a murderer outside the home should receive 10 years more in prison than a murder committed at home. Currently, the rate is 15 years if a murderer uses a gun found in the house, while someone who brings in a gun gets 25 years.
“When you tell people there’s a 10-year difference in sentencing, everyone is shocked,” she said. So let’s see the change. Let’s make sure these perpetrators are under close scrutiny, let’s stop releasing dangerous offenders into society, let’s stop allowing them to change their names. And let’s recognize that domestic violence and domestic murder are serious and should never be treated as a lesser crime than anything else.”
Devey’s daughter, Poppy, a quantitative trade analyst, was killed on December 14, 2018 by her ex-boyfriend Joe Atkinson. Although Poppy had 49 knife wounds and more than 100 injuries, Atkinson’s rate was set at 16 years – it was like her mother saying she was 10 years in debt.
“I can’t change Atkinson’s conviction, so I can’t focus on that,” she said. “But this week, next week people will be killed. There will be other mothers who will get that police officer to come and tell them that the most horrible things have just happened and their lives have been ruined ever since. So we do it for them, so that they get a sense of better justice.
The collective voice of Killed Women will be hard to ignore, says Emma Amble, who has been campaigning for stricter gun licensing laws since her sister and nieces were murdered by their husband and father. “There’s strength in numbers and in having other people who stand behind you and understand what you’re fighting for,” she said.
Killed Women – founding members also include the families of Jan Mustafa, Mumtahina Jannat, Joanne Tulip, Gemma Lynne Marjoram, Letisha Precious Shakespeare, Tracey Kidd and Suzanne Van Hagen – is calling on other families who have lost female loved ones to violence to join close ranks and for public support in the form of a GoFundMe page to power their campaigns.
The new group has the support of Refuge, the domestic violence charity, Southall Black Sisters and Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse (AAFDA). “There is a lot to learn from the collective experience of this group,” said Frank Mullane, CEO of AAFDA.
Labor MP Jess Phillips and Conservative Chair of the Women and Equality Selection Committee Caroline Nokes are also among the supporters. “The voices of those most affected by extreme male violence have too often been heard briefly, but forgotten far too quickly – Killed Women will change that,” said Nokes. Phillips agreed: “This organization could be a game changer and force politicians to act with the solution this crisis deserves.”
Some families will have to campaign out of the public eye. Bekhal Mahmod has been in hiding since she testified against her father and uncle who killed her sister Banaz 16 years ago.
Speaking to the Guardian on an undisclosed number, Mahmod said she “hated” not being able to physically be with the other families in the campaign, but wanted to raise her voice to keep the memory of her sister and other murdered women alive. to keep.
“Everyone has enemies, but I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through this. It’s something you never heal from,” she said. “But what does help is the hope that we can change things for other families – we can give them a chance at a life.”