Quick-fix measures will not stop men intent on harming women, campaigners warn

A mother and her two daughters were killed in their home by a man believed to be the ex-partner of one of the women.

The Refuge charity has called for a focus on tackling the misogynistic culture it says is the root cause of violence against women and girls
The Refuge charity has called for a focus on tackling the misogynistic culture it says is the root cause of violence against women and girls (Jonathan Brady/PA)

A misogynistic culture at the root of violence against women and girls must be addressed, a domestic abuse charity has said, in the wake of the crossbow killings of a mother and her two daughters in their home.

Refuge said while it welcomed the Government’s urgent consideration of whether tougher crossbow laws are needed after the deaths, the danger from such crimes stems from the perpetrator rather than the tools they use.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition echoed this, warning that “quick-fix” measures such as banning a weapon would not stop men intent on harming women.

Triple-murder suspect Kyle Clifford is understood to have been the ex-partner of Louise Hunt.

The 25-year-old was found fatally injured with her sister Hannah, 28, and their mother, Carol Hunt, 61, at a house in Bushey, Hertfordshire, on Tuesday.

They are the wife and daughters of BBC 5 Live commentator John Hunt.

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics showed that the most common suspect for female homicide victims aged 16 years and above was their partner or ex-partner.

The statistics, published in February this year and using the term homicide to cover manslaughter as well as murder, showed that in the year ending March 2023 in England and Wales, almost half (45%) of all adult female homicide victims were killed in a domestic incident.

Of those 70 victims, all but one were killed by a male suspect.

The ONS said that, in contrast, males were much less likely to be the victim of a domestic homicide with only 8% of male homicides being domestic-related in the year ending March 2023.

Refuge has called for more focus on tackling a misogynistic culture it said is the root cause of many such crimes.

Abigail Ampofo, interim chief executive at the charity said their thoughts are with the victims and their family and friends following the “devastating incident” this week.

She said: “It will be shocking to many that there is no registration or licence system for owning crossbows and it is right that the Government is considering if crossbow laws need to be tightened.

“Whilst we would support an outright ban on dangerous weapons like crossbows, we also need to be clear that the danger from crimes like this is from the perpetrator not the tools used to enact their violence.

“Sadly, we know in cases of domestic homicide perpetrators will use anything at their disposal as a weapon.

“The focus needs to be on tackling violence against women and girls more widely and addressing misogynistic culture that is the root cause.”

Andrea Simon, executive director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “The horrifying murders of Carol, Hannah and Louise Hunt in their family home have once again put violence against women and girls on the public agenda.

“Our thoughts are with their surviving family members, community and all who are feeling the weight of the details being reported.

“Whenever we are confronted by shocking acts of male violence against women, there is a temptation to reach for ‘quick-fix’ measures like calls to ban a particular weapon, increasing CCTV coverage or providing more street lighting.

“But none of these measures will ever stop perpetrators intent on harming women, as they don’t get to the root cause of the issue, which is the normalisation of women’s inequality and the male entitlement, power and control it produces.”

Killed Women, a campaign network for the families of women killed by men, said: “We urge all those with the power to stop this tidal wave of violence to act with urgency. All women deserve to live free from threat, fear and violence. All those whose lives are taken deserve justice.

“Our hearts are with Carol, Louise and Hannah’s family and friends, whose lives, as our network knows only too well, will never be the same again.”

Anyone experiencing domestic abuse can contact Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.