Knives are weapons of choice for inflicting fatal violence against women – ‘knife crime’ policies must recognize this

The knife is a relatively mundane, domestic and easily accessible household item. However, at the same time, it is often the weapon of choice for inflicting fatal violence against women in their homes.

In recent years, the knife has become an object of fear and panic in England and Wales when used in public by mostly young men on other young men. Overlooking the use of knives against women in ‘private’ spaces, much media coverage of ‘knife crime’ has centralised it as a problem confined to young Black men in urban environments. This attention has triggered a number of strategies and powers to tackle ‘knife crime’, primarily focusing on expanding stop and search powers, increasing prisons spaces, and launching (discriminatory) public awareness campaigns. However, all of these policy measures fail to tackle the use of knives in private spaces.

Viewed through three lenses of space, gender and materiality, this article analyses the gendered and spatialized aspects of ‘knife crime’ which are very often hidden in public and policy discourses. Situated in this way, the contemporary preoccupation with ‘knife’ crime illustrates the ongoing and deeply held assumptions surrounding debates on public and private violence. We argue that policy must recognise ‘knife crime’ as more than a problem faced only by young men in public, and addressed as a threat to women in private spaces.

For further information and the article, please see: Gendered objects and gendered spaces: The invisibilities of ‘knife’ crime (