The horrendous murder of Sarah Everard in early 2021 became a poignant symbol for the realities women in the UK face today, the ongoing battle to live life without being harassed, attacked, raped or murdered, whether inside their home by a controlling partner/spouse or notably on the street by a random stranger at night.
It was a case that kickstarted the hashtag #ReclaimTheStreets, a bitter message that demanded the right for women to go about their routines without being made to feel uncomfortable or threatened by men making a passing remark or gesture at least.
But in spite of all the outrage and nationwide demand for a societal sea-change, tragically the murder of women continued in this country, notably the murder of Sabina Nessa in the September if that year by an Albanian national.
Only this weekend, a 22-year old woman Rebecca Steer was run over and killed outside a takeaway in Shropshire, following which two men have been arrested for murder and attempted murder of an individual accompanying her but it remains to be seen if they will charged.
The killing of Zara Aleena on a night out in East London this June continued the highlights the dangers that lone women face when out at night, with a trial expected soon of the defendant accused of killing her.
And though the victim was not a woman, the act of murder of a female by a man was arguably highlighted never more so this year than the shooting of 9-year old Olivia Pratt-Korbel in Liverpool, which has since led to charges.
Now we can be grateful that the rate for such a crime is not as high here as areas around the world such as India, where so-called dowry killings run into the thousands annually or Mexico where a Guardian article reported that the murders of 3,723 women were recorded in 2020 alone.
But what good can do that to the 177 women murdered in England and Wales between April 2020 and March 2021, of whom 92% were murdered by men when factoring in cases where men were suspected? A BBC article finds that of the 119 murders of women committed in that year-long period where the suspect was aware to the police, 109 of them were done by men. Now ten women known to have murdered other women is terrible, but the statistics play as disturbing given that is eleven times less than their male counterparts. And these figures are just the cases where the suspect was identified, meaning the number of male murderers of women in that period alone, dominated by lockdowns, is likely more.
Yesterday, it was revealed that 23-year old Jack Sepple would serve a minimum of 23 years and six months for the murder of his Canadian girlfriend, 19-year old Ashley Wadsworth. Now this was a case of a trans-continental relationship between two young people which saw possessive and controlling behaviour in his part, before stabbing his girlfriend to death just before she was planning on returning to Canada to flee him.
And yet, given the brutal nature of the crime, one has to ask why this individual, irrespective of his young age, should ever be released to even enjoy an iota of freedom. Assuming he is paroled after serving his sentence, that makes him around 46, still just young enough to live some form of a free life his victim won’t.
When Wayne Couzens was rightfully given a whole life tariff for his horrific treatment of Miss Everard, that was a class-A example of when the British justice system gets it right, so it begs the question that if one person can get a whole life tariff for murdering a woman, why should it not be applied to those convicted of murdering a woman?
Several years before the case, one particularly harrowing murder made national headlines, that of Libby Squire, a student from Hull whose rapist and murderer Pawel Relowicz was convicted and sentenced to life with a minimum of 27 years at the age of 26. Now the judge informed him that it will be down to the Parole Board to decide if he would be considered for release upon completion, though he cited it would be unlikely. But one cannot begin to imagine the horror that Libby Squire would have endured in her final moments, a horror so unimaginable that we must ask once again why a whole life sentence was not applied, given there would be assurance he would not only be free to live whatever is left of his life, but avoid killing again. The fact he would be in a capable of murder age of early 50s shows more argument for why a whole life tariff would be the solely appropriate punishment.
Now tragic as it is when we hear stories of men who have been murdered by women, it is far more common for women to be murdered by men here in the UK. And even though it won’t stop murder entirely, which as a society we have to accept is inevitable in some cases regardless of resources and behavioural corrections, such is the rampant anger and despair reading about yet another woman’s life being taken at the hands of men in contrasting amounts to that of vice versa, the time must come for automatic whole life tariffs to be made for men who murder women.
Murder is murder and each murder requires the appropriate punishment but such is the disturbing prevalence of male-on-female murder that surely the threat of spending the rest of one’s life imprisoned for committing such an act would serve as a deterrent for at least one individual who realises in time what awaits them if they went ahead with their cold-blooded murder.
One day, hopefully we will live in a country where all murder is punishable by a whole life tariff and though society tend to demand whole life tariffs for those who murder children, it’s a thought process that should also apply to men that murder women given the lessons such delivery would teach.
After all, should a man who murders a woman, via domestic abuse or a typical sexually charged murder, is convicted and serves his sentence, be trusted to live in the free air when there is a chance another woman may fall victim to him? No, because the risk is not worth it. For anyone debating if a whole life tariff should be handed to all men who murder women, the argument for it is here and it is something that must be delivered if we are to try swinging the pendulum into the right direction of ensuring fewer women are murdered and are safer as a result.