By Margaret Davis, Press Association Crime Correspondent
One hundred and thirty-nine women were killed by men in 2017, with two in five cases involving excessive violence, a report has found.
The latest Femicide Census, drawn up by charity Women’s Aid and campaigner Karen Ingala Smith, suggested 58 of the deaths featured “overkilling”, where more violence is used than is necessary to kill the victim.
The report’s authors looked at 139 deaths of women and girls aged 14 and over at the hands of men in 2017, including 21 victims of the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London.
They claim that “in our society, men’s violence against women and girls is not only routine, but tolerated and normalised”, and are calling for funding promises from the Government to stop specialist support services closing down.
There were 113 such deaths in 2016, 119 in 2015, and 139 in 2014.
Of the victims last year, 64 women (46%) were killed by their current or former partner – when the terrorist attacks were excluded, the proportion rose to 54.2%.
Thirty (21.6%) were killed by a stranger, including 21 women killed in terror attacks; 24 died at the hands of a man outside their family but known to them, such as a friend, colleague or neighbour; 10 women (7.2%) were killed by their sons, and seven women (4.9%) were killed by another male family member.
Most victims were aged between 26 and 55 – 82 women, 59% of the total – and the majority were killed either at their home or the perpetrator’s.
Of those who were killed by their ex-partner, 12 (55%) died within the first month of separation, and 19 (87%) within the first year.
Nearly three-quarters of the 126 killers (90) were aged between 26 and 55, and most of the killings involved a sharp instrument (66).
Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: “Time and time again, we hear of cases where a woman has been killed by a man as an ‘isolated incident’, yet the latest Femicide Census report shows yet again that this is not the case.
“The majority of these cases are not isolated incidents, there are too many similarities in the circumstances where women are killed by men.
“In four in 10 cases, there was evidence that the perpetrator used excessive violence, more than was necessary, to kill the victim. Despite the extreme level of fatal male violence being used against women, it is clear that not enough is being done to protect women from men’s violence and prevent more women’s lives being taken.”
The Government is expected to publish its Domestic Abuse Bill later this week, and Women’s Aid is calling for guaranteed funding to stop specialist support services from closing down.
Ms Ghose added: “Our network of life-saving specialist services is not an optional extra but an essential piece of the jigsaw in our response to domestic abuse and femicide.
“They not only provide survivors with the support they need to escape abuse but they are also often the key to survivors having the confidence to report the abuse to the police in the first place.
“The Domestic Abuse Bill must protect specialist services from closure – only then can we ensure that every survivor can safely escape and rebuild her life, free from fear and abuse.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “Domestic abuse is a devastating crime that shatters the lives of victims and we are determined to transform our response. This Government will be publishing a landmark draft Domestic Abuse Bill, which will include a statutory Government definition of domestic abuse, introduce new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders and establish a Domestic Abuse Commissioner.
“The Home Office has made it a statutory duty for Community Safety Partnerships to produce a Domestic Homicide Review to ensure lessons are to be learned from those who are murdered by family or those close to them.
“We have pledged £100 million to violence against women and girl’s services between 2016 and 2020. We will soon be publishing a refresh of our VAWG strategy, which will look at further ways we can support victims.”