The murder of four women in London has added to a sense of outrage amid fears the authorities were failing to address violence against women with activists calling on the Government to impose harsher penalties for such crimes
Four women were brutally murdered by strangers in London during lockdown last year.
The murders of Sarah Everard, Sabina Nessa and many others at the hands of men have provoked a national conversation about women’s safety.
Sarah Everard was the first and most highly publicized murder in the capital in 2021.
She was killed by serving police officer Wayne Couzens on March 3 last year in a savage attack which involved kidnap, rape and murder.
Couzens, from Deal in Kent, used his warrant card to abduct the defenceless 33-year-old as she walked home from a friend’s house in Clapham, south London.
The vile killer was handed a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey for the horrific crime that sickened the nation.
In May, Valentin Lazar, 21, followed Maria Rawlings off a bus in Romford, east London.
The 45-year-old victim was strangled by evil Lazar, 21, and then subjected to a barbaric onslaught of extreme violence involving a wooden stick embedded with nails and a knife.
The evil predator left Valentin in undergrowth in Little Heath in Romford and was later jailed for life with a minimum of 23 years and six months.
Even though he was not charged with a sexual offence, the prosecution suggested a possible “sexual motive” because Valentin had bruises on her inner thighs and was found naked.
In September 2021, primary school teacher Sabina Nessa was attacked and killed by Koci Selamaj.
Like Sarah Everard, Sabina was preyed upon by Selamaj, who was unknown to her, as she walked near her south London home after dark.
The “evil” sexual predator traveled from his home in Eastbourne, Sussex, to carry out the premeditated attack in the capital.
Selamaj, 36, had a history of unreported violence against his estranged wife, but had no previous convictions.
He was today jailed for at least 36 years for her murder.
In October, Josephine Smith, 88, was found dead in her home in east London after reports of a fire.
Two male teenagers were charged with her manslaughter and arson and are expected to go on trial at the Old Bailey early next year.
Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector Neil John said such cases are “incredibly rare” but would not be drawn on the possible reasons behind the cluster of killings.
Mr John declined to speculate on whether any of these attacks could have been “copycat” style murders in the wake of Sarah Everard’s death.
He also refused to comment on whether isolation during the Covid lockdown may have played a role in these incidents.
He told PA: “As to whether or not there’s any correlation between them, I simply don’t know I’m afraid.”
In April 2022, the Met Police published an updated action plan to tackle violence against women and girls across London.
In 2021, at least 141 British women were killed by men, or in attacks where a man was the primary suspect, according to Counting Dead Women, a project dedicated to tracking such killings.
According to the latest Office for National Statistics, between April 2020 and March 2021, 177 women were murdered in England, compared to 416 men – meaning 30% of people killed were women.
Of these women, 109 were killed by a man and 10 by a female suspect. In 58 cases there was no known suspect.
This means that – where the suspect was known – 92% of women were killed by men in the year ending March 2021.
The same number of women – 177 – were killed between April 2019 to March 2020, compared with 495 men.
The most recent data from the ONS shows that 60% of the women killed in England or Wales knew their suspected killer, compared to 44% of male victims.
Around a third of suspects were a current or former partner – with this being the most common relationship between victim and attacker where one exists.
The Femicide Census project collects information about women who have been killed in the UK.
Founders Karen Ingala Smith and Clarrie O’Callaghan say the Government must go further:
They said: “We want the state to be accountable for preventing and prosecuting men’s violence against women. We want perpetrators brought to justice but better still, we want the killing of women by men – femicide – to stop.”