Kay Diamond was 52 years old when she died. Battered to death by her boyfriend within hours of him being released from prison for domestic violence offences. Kay had been punched, kicked & attacked with a weapon that was believed to have been a dog chain. Left with extensive bruising from head to toe and whilst a police officer fought to resuscitate Kay, Anthony Blye stood there and rolled a cigarette. Two months after Kay’s death, her daughter Rachelle Owen took her own life on the rail tracks near Hoylake Station, Wirral. She was just 16.
As tragic and heartbreaking as this story is, the chances are you’ve probably not heard of Kay, Nor her daughter. The case may not be a familiar one. Nor is this story and the issues involved with it an isolated one. 598 women were killed by a current or former partner in the U.K. between 2009 and 2015. That’s an average of two a week. Two grandmothers or mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, friends, neighbours. They’ve left holes in people’s lives that can’t be replaced. These woman are more than just another statistic and their names deserve to be remembered. I’ve recently discovered and become a part of a project that hopes to do that.
This week when scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed a post stopped me. It was a beautiful patch for a quilt. With an accompanying post that really pulled me in. “I have finished my first patch for The Women’s Quilt, in memory of Sylvia Rowley-Bailey, who was attacked as she sat at her computer and whose body was found with 23 knife wounds. Her killer was only sentenced to five years for manslaughter (raised to 7.5 on appeal) because she was deemed to have ‘nagged him’. ” Adele’s post led me to join the Facebook group to find out more and so I became a part of The Women’s Quilt.
The aim of the group is to create a quilt made of patches decorated with the names of the women who have lost their lives between 2009 & 2015 at the hands of a partner or ex. Ideally the quilt will be put together in time for International Women’s Day on the 8th March this year. The project is not just for those who can sew. You can paint the patch or glue. Not just strictly for women to be involved either! Anyone is welcome regardless of gender.
The idea came from Roxanne following the release of the Femicide Census, a database containing information on women killed by men in England and Wales since 2009. It was developed by Karen Ingala Smith and Women’s Aid working in partnership, with support from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Deloitte LLP. The census aims to provide analysis that can provide a clearer picture of men’s fatal violence towards women. The information pulled together into a report published in December 2016.
Roxanne told me: “Last year the Femicide Census was released and I just felt something needed to be done, a visualisation of all the women who have lost their lives. Something other than a number on a page that can be glossed over. Something that emphasised the names of the women, as so often it’s their names are forgotten, like with Reeva Steenkamp. When these things get to court the emphasis is on the man, not the woman. For instance one of the men had his sentence reduced because “she nagged”. So the project started with me adding friends, who added friends and from there it just exploded. We have quilting groups around the country who have put aside their normal work to make patches and people who have never quilted before learning. Even people who have said they have never sewn before.This project has really brought people together and for many it has been cathartic. One of the women murdered was the cancer nurse for the woman who made her patch’s husband. And another provided student support for the woman who made her patch and actually talked her out of quiting college three times.”
That’s one of the incredible things that strikes me about this group. The love & warmth I feel from it. The admin team along with Roxanne do a fantastic job in running the project. You see a real care from the people who are members and a constant reminder of the groups purpose and a drive to succeed. I’ve posted on this blog before about that feeling of the “sisterhood” I’ve never felt it stronger than within The Woman’s quilt group. I’m enjoying watching people post pictures of the progress of their patch, passionately share the story of the women they have choosen to represent, explain their own experiences and post pictures of the completed patch and just like the women who’s voices their stand for, each patch is beautifully unique.
The Women’s Quilt now has the support of the wonderful Jess Phillips MP and together with those who run the project will work to get the quilt displayed. This is not a political group I may add. This is about the women themselves and ensuring they are at the very heart of this. No longer just a number but a realisation of a women lost.
I don’t ask much from the people that read my blog. The fact that you take the time to read my musings is more than enough. With this post though I am going to ask. The names have now been completed but the work goes on to get the project funded so the Quilt can be displayed around the country.
If you can donate even the smallest amount then please do by the following: https://www.gofundme.com/the-womens-quilt
The group can be found through this link
For future information regarding the Femicide Census: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/what-we-do/campaigning-and-influencing/femicide-census/
0808 200 0247 Freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline.
Finally this is dedicated to Kay. The much loved mother to a daughter and a son. Younger sister and aunt. Beloved daughter. A woman who travelled the world in her twenties and was described as bright, clever and quick-witted. For Kay and for her daughter Rachelle. May they both be rembered and rest in peace ❤
Thank you for reading.