The killing of women by Susan Grimsdell

There was a double-page spread in the Herald recently: 19 photos of women’s faces.  Underneath, the article explained that they were women who had been killed in the past decade, 2011 – 2021. The actual total was 158, but that’s too many for the paper to print photos.  Men get murdered too, but 75% of murder victims are female.

Death by tiger

Later I listened to a radio programme about tigers.  There are about 3900 left in the wild in the world, all in Asia, including in parts of China, India and Nepal.  Even though people have long been forbidden from going out on safari to kill them so they can show how big and brave they are, the tiger population is under threat. Tigers are predators, and their preferred prey is pretty thin on the ground nowadays, largely because people have taken over a lot of the areas where prey used to thrive.  However, luckily for tigers, but not so luckily for humans, tigers are just as happy to eat the people who have displaced their normal prey.  This causes a few problems for the people. 

Death by human

New Zealand doesn’t have any wild tigers at all.  No grizzly bears, lions, or any other big animals roaming freely that we would be mortally afraid of if we happened across them in the bush.  Incidentally a tiger’s roar can be heard for about 5 km.  Imagine being close to one when it roared. 

No predators, yet 158 women were killed.  Someone from another planet might find that puzzling, but no one reading this would be puzzled at all because we all know who killed those women.  Not tigers, not  lions or grizzly bears.  In all cases it was a human who killed them, mostly one who knew the victim, and mostly a male human.   Only 16% of female victims did not know their killer.  87% of homicide offenders are male.

Appropriate response

Imagine if it actually were tigers.  In Asian countries this happens and when it does, it’s treated as a catastrophic event, and villagers have meetings to discuss what should be done.  International agencies become involved. 

But in our country, when women are killed, more than one a month year after year, nothing much happens.  It got a double-page spread in the end of the year paper this time, but usually it doesn’t even make the news at all.  How about we start acting as if, every time a woman is killed, she was killed by a tiger – “Tiger pounces on woman in her home, kills her.”  “Woman out with friend, tiger ambushes her, kills her.”  “Tiger claws woman to death in her own home.”   “Tiger seeking food kills woman in kitchen.” 

Perhaps this would grab our jaded attention and we would begin to think, as the Asian villagers think, “We have to do something about this.”  Sadly, the answer is not for the women to stay home because that’s the very place they’re usually killed.  

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