By Emma Batha
LONDON, Jan 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A young British artist is commemorating domestic abuse victims killed by their partners or exes with a series of unfinished portraits — drawing each woman for just one minute for every year she lived.
"The pictures highlight how these women's lives were cut short. They are incomplete because the women were never allowed to live their full lives," said Holly Ringrose, who is posting the images on social media.
Britain, like other countries, has seen a surge in domestic abuse during lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19, which have left women trapped at home with their abusers.
Ringrose was inspired by US artist Adrian Brandon, who created a series of unfinished portraits of Black people killed by police in a project called "Stolen" that attracted global attention last year following the death of George Floyd.
Nearly 2 million people a year in Britain, mostly women, suffer some form of domestic abuse, according to official data.
Laureline was murdered by her then ex boyfriend whom strangled her to death. She was found buried in her garden, unclothed and wrapped in bin bags. He did this after lying about cancer to extort money from her.— Reigate&Banstead WA (@RBWA_) January 7, 2021
The Femicide Census, a project run by a charity that collates data on women killed by men, says a woman is killed by a current or former partner every four days in Britain.
The youngest victim drawn by Ringrose is schoolgirl Ellie Gould who was 17 when a classmate stabbed her in the neck 13 times in May 2019 after she ended a short relationship with him.
The oldest is Elize Stevens, a 50-year-old mother-of-three and welfare officer who was stabbed 86 times by her partner in March 2019.
Mother-of-four Aliny was murdered by her then ex husband, whom stabbed her multiple times in the chest and neck as she went to collect her children from school. He did this to “punish her for leaving him”.— Reigate&Banstead WA (@RBWA_) January 6, 2021
"I want to show that it can happen to anyone — it doesn't matter how old you are, where you come from, your race, ethnicity, or economic background," said Ringrose, who works for a domestic abuse charity.
"It's still quite taboo. People think it's none of their business, but girls and women are losing their lives. I thought this was a good way to show that we do need to speak about it."
Ringrose, 19, who aims to post one or two drawings on Twitter each week, said she hoped they would help raise awareness of the heightened risks of domestic abuse during the pandemic.
Giselle was strangled to death by her partner. Her then partner then raped and strangled 15 year old Allison to death. Before committing a final act of control and killing himself. Giselle’s sister had said that Giselle wanted to end the relationship due to being controlled.— Reigate&Banstead WA (@RBWA_) January 25, 2021
Britain, which has Europe's highest COVID-19 death toll, began a third lockdown early this month as it tries to tackle a highly infectious new strain of the virus.
"People forget that domestic abuse is also a pandemic. The first lockdown was catastrophic for so many women," Ringrose said. "I hope the drawings will make people more aware of what goes on behind closed doors and encourage them to help."
Ringrose, who works for Reigate and Banstead Women's Aid, which provides refuge for women fleeing abuse in the south of England, said demand for spaces had increased 150% since the start of the first lockdown in March 2020.
She said demand for spaces was 10 times greater than what was available.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said anyone at risk of violence is allowed to break the stay-at-home order.
(Reporting by Emma Batha @emmabatha; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)