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Why don’t they lock up all the men?

The murder of Jo Cox MP has shocked us all. We are shocked because someone who only became an MP because she won local popular support should not be removed from that post by a lone dissident. We are shocked because of the brutality of the attack and the weapons used. We are shocked because none of us can explain to her two young children why the society we run had a fault running through it which allowed someone to deprive them of their mother.

Jo Cox was killed on 16th June.

Since she died, Ben Butler has been jailed for life and ordered to serve at least 23 years for killing his six year old daughter Ellie. Medical evidence revealed that his attack was so violent it had left her head “a boggy mass”.

Since she died, it is likely that at least one woman in the UK and over 50 elsewhere in Europe has been killed by a partner or former partner – because on average 100 women’s lives are ended each year in this manner in the UK and 3,500 in Europe.

Since she died, it is likely that 400 women have been raped in India – where it is estimated that one rape occurs every 22 minutes – and that 400 female babies have been killed in the Indian state of Kerala alone (the UN estimates that 25,000 female babies are killed each year).

Unbelievably, we could go on. Violence against women is a global epidemic. To highlight the deaths of and attacks on these many other women is not to diminish the horror of the murder of Jo Cox. It is to elevate the anonymous women who have also been subjected to violence from men as they try to go about their everyday lives.

Slowly, attitudes are shifting. Sentencing Ben Butler, Judge Mr Justice Wilkie told him: “You are a self-absorbed, ill-tempered, violent and domineering man who… regarded your children and your partner as trophies, having no role other than to fit in with your infantile and sentimentalised fantasy of family life with you as the patriarch whose every whim was to be responded to.” Yes! Maxi fist pump! Words like this would never have been spoken in a British Court 40 years ago, at a time when the establishment believed its duty was to cover up the child abuse committed by famous men rather than protect their past and future victims.

This change is not fast enough. Locking up men would bring the crime figures down, but it is not really practical to implement collective punishment in this way. Instead, we can all do our bit to empower women. Sadiq Khan banning sexist adverts from the London Tube is a step in the right direction. Cutting funding to women’s refuges is not.

The police and Crown Prosecution Service definition of “hate crime” is that it is motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity or sexual orientation. Maybe it’s time we added attacking and killing women to that list – with the attendant higher sentencing tariff that would involve. Perhaps that would be a worthy action to take in memory of Jo Cox.


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