The annual event, held to mark the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, represents and remembers those women who have lost their lives to domestic violence murder in the last twelve months in the UK.
Representatives from Trafford Rape Crisis joined fellow sisters to participate in this year’s Dead Women Walking March, held in Manchester City Centre on Sunday 24th November to coincide with the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, 25th November. The day marks the beginning of 16 Days of Activism, an annual UN awareness campaign to highlight gender-based violence and its impact.
The march, organised by Claire Moore of Certain Curtain Theatre Company, is a creative protest designed to raise awareness and call for an end to domestic violence murder. Currently, one woman is murdered every 3 days on average within the UK by a man she knows.
Opening the march, Claire spoke of recent cases featured in the media that demonstrated the continuing need for women to speak out, fight and act on behalf of those no longer able to do so for themselves.
Most recently the case of Mavis Bran, 69, made headlines as her husband was cleared of her murder after she died following burns to over 46% of her body from a chip fat fryer in October 2018. Her husband claimed Mrs Bran had pulled the fryer on herself in an accident. His wife had previously told friends she feared her husband would kill her.
Following the incident, she called a friend, telling her: “Geoff has thrown boiling oil over me, help me, help me, get here now. I am burnt to hell.” Her husband did not call for assistance and continued to serve customers in their chip shop. The jury deliberated for 5 hours before clearing Mr Bran of her murder.
In addition, Claire pointed to the recent case of British backpacker Grace Millane, which highlighted a frightening and appalling increased trend towards using ‘rough sex’ as a defence in domestic murder.
Campaign group, We Can’t Consent to This, records femicides with this defence and reports a ten-fold increase in claims of ‘rough consensual sex gone wrong’ in the courtroom. The group is joined by women’s activist organisations throughout the UK in calling for a change in the law.
“I want to see an end to victim-blaming, on all counts. We are not to blame for the violence and abuse we experience; if we drink and we are out, and we are raped, the message must be to rapists: do not rape women. Not to women, ‘do not drink’.
“All campaigns need to focus on the abusers. The rapists. The murderers. The violent men in our society.
“Many people ask me why this walk is women-only. I feel it is important that we represent the women whose lives have been taken. The void that they have left; the space that they have left in this world. We represent them today. Until lessons are learned, we are all dead women walking.
The Dead Women Walking march saw participants walk single file through the heart of Manchester city centre, keeping silence as the names and circumstances of those women who had lost their lives in the previous twelve months were read out. Walkers wore red, creating a stark and poignant line as they marched.
“It was a strange feeling, being looked at as we walked for a mile through the city centre in our red ponchos, listening to the names of women being read aloud. While there were a few hecklers, we also received nods of respect and acknowledgment, and words of support,” remarked TRC Trustee, Suzie Henriques.
“It’s a powerful and moving thing to be a part of.”
TRC volunteer, Becki, spoke of the public reaction to the march:
“Domestic violence and murder are deeply distressing topics to consider, and we understand that being forced to confront that reality makes some onlookers feel uncomfortable. For those who are just in town meeting friends or doing their Christmas shopping, this isn’t something they were expecting or anticipating as part of their day. It can trigger strong reactions.
“However, that’s also an important part of why we need to do this. If we remain silent, if we don’t draw attention to the reality of what is happening in our society or challenge the culture that surrounds it and allows for violence against women to continue, we can’t ever expect things to change. Silence will only cost us more lives.”
Trafford Rape Crisis extends its gratitude to all attendees of the march and to Claire Moore for organizing and facilitating.
If you have been affected by this article and would like to speak with someone or get support, you can find information on services available via Women’s Aid nationally. For Trafford-based services, please visit Trafford Domestic Abuse Services. Our helpline is also open for those women facing sexual violence or rape, including domestic rape: no matter when or where it happened. See our opening times, here.