The news of the death of the British Member of Parliament Jo Cox, a 41 year old mother of two and a wife, has shocked the world.
In the early afternoon, when Cox was leaving her constituency office in Birstall, England, she was allegedly attacked, knifed and shot by a 52-year-old man. By 1:48pm she was declared dead at the scene.
Her death has caused shock, dismay and devastation. However, it cannot be seen as a complete and utter surprise. Reports of the events are yet to be officially confirmed and so it would be wrong to jump to full conclusions before the full police inquiry has finished.
Nonetheless, it cannot be a coincidence that the death of a female and outward-looking politician, who lent her voice loudly to calling for the acceptance of Syrian refugees, and to advocating the benefits of migration and immigration, has come at a time of increased nationalism and intolerance towards foreigners and women.
In recent times in the UK an article calling migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea “cockroaches” and “feral humans” was published in the British Press. A British politician said he wanted to stab the UK Prime Minister David Cameroon in the front so that he could see the expression on his face, over divisions on the UK Brexit vote. And overt violence and hatred towards woman has massively increased, including wide-spread threats of violence and rape on social media and attacks such as this.
Jo Cox was a woman political activist, political leader, NGO worker, human rights defender and advocator of guaranteeing the safety of the most vulnerable in our world. She was emblematic of WILPF’s message.
Her death comes in the same week that WILPF has started its advocacy at the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council. There, WILPF is bringing in a delegation of Syrian Women Civil Society Leaders to present the gendered analysis of the human rights situation in Syria as well as hosting a side event on the impact the use, acquisition and possession of firearms by civilians has on human rights.
This is also the same week in which WILPF welcomes its newest group, WILPF Chad. We are proud of WILPF’s expansion across Africa; however, as this event shows, WILPF and its message are still just as vital in developed Western countries. We cannot be complacent.