Where have all the burglars gone? is a headline from an article in the July 20, 2013 issue of the Economist. The author reports that crime, including murder, is down worldwide. The explanation? Demographics, better technology that foils would be thieves, different and better policing tactics, and my favorite–that things formerly worth stealing, like electronics, have come down in price that the risk is no longer worth it. As the author says, “There is little point in burgling a home to steal a DVD player worth $30.”
Buried in the article is this, too. “Not all crime is falling. Sexual offences, which often go unrecorded, may be becoming more or less common.” I think of the women who got on buses in India and were gangraped. But actually I think more often about my own little piece of paradise, the Upper Connecticut River Valley, where crime is generally so low that I once lived in a house that had no key, and that was not uncommon.
I have not stopped to count, but in the past few years, it seems that I seen/heard/read about a half-dozen fundraising efforts to support the children of women who have been killed, either by husbands, ex-husbands, or in one case, by a couple who decided they just wanted to kill a woman. This, in my own community, often described as bucolic. Sometimes these murders have come weeks apart, and I confess to struggling to keep one victim straight from another. Often the same sort of story: history of domestic abuse, woman tries to leave, man shoots her, sometimes with children at the scene of the crime.
Trayvon Martin. Ferguson, twice. Marches, lots of TV coverage, including town hall meetings on CNN. I found some of that coverage educational, thought it was a humble but important step that a country once again take a run at discussing race.
Where, aside from the initial reporting, is this kind of coverage of woman-killing? Surely if this is happening in my own little supposed pristine corner of the universe, it is happening everywhere. Look at the crime statistics about domestic violence from the US government. People hold fundraisers, but aside from an occasional Take Back the Night vigil, no one riots, marches, prevails upon CNN to address the issue. Even the coverage of domestic violence by professional athletes seems to have come and gone.
I, like the media, have used the words “war on women” in many contexts, most recently to describe attitudes and actions by the Republican Party on a host of admittedly important issues. But there is a different kind of war on women and one that seems to be tolerated. It’s the kind that is not a metaphor, that takes place on the actual battlefield of homes and streets, and at times, even public buses, and women are the ones who end up dead. All with some sad nods, little outrage.