The epidemic of violence against women must prompt the “same level of horror” and swift action as other crises, ministers have been told.
Labour’s Jess Phillips read out the names of more than 100 women murdered by men in the last 12 months, with MPs in the House of Commons listening in silence.
It took Ms Phillips, the MP for Birmingham Yardley, more than four minutes to read out the names.
She added any government would “stop at nothing” to enact policy had all these deaths been connected to terrorism.
“I rise like I rise every year to read the names of the women who have been murdered by men since this time last year,” she said.
“I am afraid that the statistics released recently show this is unfortunately not a number that goes down, but is in fact a number that is going up.”
She noted one woman lived on a street next to where she lives, explaining: “I saw the sirens and heard the roar, and knew I would have to read out her name.”
Ms Phillips also read out five names of women who were murdered alongside their friend, husband or partner, noting four of these were murdered by their son.
She told MPs: “In reading the list and thinking every year about having to say the same thing, I cannot help but reflect that had these women all been murdered in terrorist incidents, had these women all died of coronavirus, had these women all died at sports events around the year, there would be huge enquiry, the Government would stop at nothing had these all been terrorist deaths to enact – and not just this Government, any government – policy quickly, effectively.
“Cobra meetings would be held if this many people had died of coronavirus even in that space of time.
“Far, far greater response is made to almost every other epidemic than the epidemic of male violence against women.
Epidemic of violence
“And for every woman who sits in front of me who has suffered it over the years, what I can say is that it leaves most people feeling literally as if they are worth less, their lives are worth less, that women’s bodies, women’s lives matter less and the epidemic of violence against them is never considered to be a pattern, to be a disease in our country or around the world that has to have the same will that would be given to other things.”
Ms Phillips welcomed the forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill, adding: “But until we start hearing that list as if it were a list in another circumstance and acting with the same level of horror, and knowing we’d gain the same political benefit from dealing with it that we would were it be terrorism, then we will never get anywhere.”
She added: “That is why we keep doing it because these women are not statistics, they are the friends of our children, they are our children, they are the women who live down the road from me who I will have walked past a million times.
“And what I hope that the list does is remind people of how serious this is and that on pretty much every street and in every classroom there will be somebody who is quietly suffering who might one day end up on the list.”