We need to be careful with data in the media.
Domestic violence is a very important social issue. It is also very important that we are accurate and concise with the statistical information that we use.
There are many violence against women groups that raise awareness on the topic. These kind’s of awareness campaigns are important. It brings to light a very important issue that should be discussed. Discussions of violence should not be taboo.
The Red Heart Campaign (TRHC) is one of those groups. It is run by a prominent journalist that has a passion for the topic. Sherele Moody runs both the Red Heart Campaign and the Australian femicide map, which is a memorial to some men, women and children lost to manslaughter in Australia.
The map is a work of art, and having made a similar map myself, I am fully aware of the amount of effort required to go into creating and maintaining it.
The Red Heart Campaign, rightly so, is a fantastic tool for bringing awareness to the topic of violence against women. TRHC also keeps an annual count of female victims lost to preventable deaths each year.
TRHC counts all deaths regardless of the perpetrator’s gender or relationship to the victim.
TRHC intends to show how many women die in Australia to things such as;
– Domestic violence
– Violence by strangers
– Terrorist attacks
– Accidental killings by partners
– Murders/manslaughters of Australian’s overseas by foreigners.
This sometimes changes and other forms of deaths are later added to the list.
Sometimes, these counts make their way into domestic violence articles and even onto domestic violence support services webpages, to show how many women are dying each year to preventable causes.
Whilst this is important, it sometimes can unintentionally conflate many different issues and unless someone has done a lot of research on each individual death, this can cause a series of conflations of different issues to occur.
Many viewers can unintentionally perceive this as the number of domestic violence deaths that have occurred (given they are on DV support pages, or even in domestic violence articles).
These same people then go on to repeat this number on other forums, and this is where the issue starts. An incorrect figure accidentally makes its way into the public domain.
A domestic violence support group shares the Red Heart campaigns death count.
A lady unknowingly cites the figure as a domestic violence statistic. She was being corrected that 10 females had been murdered due to DV at the time.
Whilst I am certain this is unintentional, its very important for people not to conflate the issues.
Below we will list every female death from The Red Heart Campaign and individually explain them. This list is correct as of the “23 women murdered” displayed in the images above – 2nd May 2019.
As you would note, the Red Heart Campaign also flag which events they believe are domestically violent related:
Non-Australian and non-DV related are highlighted RED
DV related are highlighted GREEN.
At the time of writing, its unknown if this murder was domestically violent related. TRHC have also not flagged this as a DV incident.
This death is a domestic violence incident, however, it occurred in the United Kingdom and the perpetrator was not an Australian. This incident should not be present on an Australian domestic violence count, as it occurred overseas by a foreigner. It is not reflective of an Australian issue or a death that occured in Australia, by an Australian.
This has no connection to domestic violence at all. This was a death by terrorism in Sri Lanka.
This is a domestic violence-related event, however, there is the chance it may be in self defence. We will include this as a DV related event because regardless if it was self defence, it is a DV event.
Perpetrator unknown. Unknown DV event, Victim died by intentionally lit fire. Possible suicide.
Non DV related event. No perpetrator is known.
DV event. Two children killed by mother. Unfortunately, being a ‘violence against women’ count, people may presume this is a male perpetrator.
This is technically DV. However, the person responsible for killing this woman, was another woman. It also occurred in a foreign country and has no reflection of DV within Australia. There was also heavy culture influence in the killing. It is not reflective of an Australian issue, nor is it reflective of mens violence against women, as its often sold as in the total number.
There is no information to suggest this was domestically violent related. TRHC have even flagged it ‘Poss DV’.
This is a confirmed DV incident.
This was not a DV incident. The victim was not in any kind of domestic or family relationship with the perpetrator. The perpetrator was a not well known ‘acquaintance’. This does not fit the legal definition of DV.
Woman murdered by her female cleaner This was not a DV incident. Will be painted as male violence towards women in the total number.
We will consider this one borderline. There is no evidence as yet that this is DV related. The victims ex-partner was killed in a car accident the day after the victim’s murder. Its believed the accident was possibly suicide. It may be circumstantial, however at this point in time its unknown.
Once again, nothing to suggest this is DV related. Since the 10 year campaign to end violence against women, all DV events against women are reported with “Domestic Violence” within the articles. There is no such mention in this article.
This is a DV incident.
This is not a DV incident.
This is not a DV incident which also includes a female suspect. It will be sold as male violence towards women.
This actually is a domestic violence incident (incorrectly labeled by Red Heart), however, the victim was not Australian, the death occurred overseas, and the perpetrator was a foreigner. There is no reason at all for this to be on an Australian count.
6 confirmed female victims
5 confirmed female victims of domestic violence homicide with male suspects/charged.
1 woman murdered by another woman
5 women were suspects in all murders
1 woman murdered 2 children
Accuracy and non-conflation is important.
Whilst this conflation of data is not the fault of the The Red Heart Campaign, journalists that use the information need to be more careful with researching what the data represents. As we have shown here, the data can easily be misconstrued as something else.
This has the effect of incorrect data being cited in the media and making a very important problem look much larger than it actually is. This has the effect of causing un-needed fear.
According to the Red Heart Campaigns own count, 7 of those incidents were confirmed domestically violent related. The other problem with the total count, is it can be portrayed as deaths of women, by men as they are often cited in ‘mens violence against women’ articles. As we can see, some of those murders were committed by females and most were not DV related, nor occurred in Australia by Australians.
Whilst still a tragic number, less than 1/3rd are DV related, however, are being cited as such. This is horribly inaccurate.
Even though TRHC has listed 6 women and 4 children (2 of which were murdered by a mother) as dying resultant from DV, DVAA has identified 10 women who have died due to DV in Australia. Accuracy is key.
The information on the RHC page is always treated very differently. Whilst the Red Heart Campaign does capture male victim death counts, that number never makes it to the media.
If male death count is discussed online, the focus is always the gender of the perpetrator, however when the discussion is female victims, the focus is always the victim’s gender.
Same is also true for child homicides and murders.
Why the difference in reporting?