We are horrified to hear about the extent of police failings that that contributed to the deaths of Raneem Oudeh and Khaola Saleem. These were senseless and cruel murders that were enabled by the failings of the West Midlands Police.
The inquest by the Independent Office for Police Conduct looked at how police responded to ten domestic abuse incidents reported against the perpetrator in the year leading up to the women’s murder. The police repeatedly missed opportunities to help these women and, despite multiple reports and plenty of evidence, the perpetrator was not once arrested. Both women were killed outside Khaola’s home while Raneem was on the phone to the West Midlands Police – one of at least seven calls she made to emergency services that evening alone. Police inaction directly empowered the perpetrator, allowing him to continue his abuse without fear of being held accountable.
The failure to recognise the severity of this clear pattern of abuse highlights a real lack of understanding of male violence against women and girls to the point of negligence, and it must be addressed. The details of this case are crushing and infuriating, adding two more names to a list of women who have not been protected from abuse and murder. Time and time again, women are failed by those whose job it is to protect them, and it is simply not acceptable.
This news come on the back of findings that the police could have done more to protect Zara Aleena, whose killer had only recently been released from prison and had 28 previous convictions, including for assault. At the time of Zara’s death, he was free on licence from a sentence of criminal damage racially aggravated harassment and unauthorised possession of a knife in prison. According to the BBC, his licence had been revoked two days prior due to missed appointments and, while it was being processed by authorities, he had not yet been officially recalled. Zara should have been protected from this man and if the criminal justice system were working properly, this murder may never have happened.
It is also vital to recognise the disproportionate impact of male violence against women and girls (MVAWG) on Black and minoritised women, and the failure to protect these women that is rooted in systemic misogyny and racism.
Given that a woman is killed every three days in the UK, it is horrifying that the epidemic of MVAWG is not taken more seriously or treated with urgency. Time and time again, lives are devastated by male violence and systematic failures to protect women. The refusal to treat this crisis with the gravity it deserves allows this cycle to continue. Male violence is a leading cause in the premature death of women and girls in the UK. For a mortality rate this high with any other cause, there would be nationwide uproar and demands for the government to address it. This should be no exception.
Our thoughts are with Raneem, Khaola, and Zara’s loved ones and we echo Khaola’s sister Nour’s calls for better training and knowledge of domestic abuse and coercive control across the police. We continue to work tirelessly to combat MVAWG, and once again urge the government and police forces nationwide to make MVAWG a priority and use their resources to protect women and girls.