When is murder not murder? In the eyes of the law, it seems that it is not murder if a man kills his wife.
I was deeply upset this week to hear about the death of Hendrikje Priester of Abbotsford who was murdered on March 25th by her common-law husband. There is much about this story that shocks me.
The first shocking thing is that this story was not considered newsworthy. The only media attention her death received was one small news piece in the local weekly paper. We didn’t see radio or television coverage and nothing in either of the daily papers We see this time and time again but it always surprises. When a woman is killed by her partner it is not deemed by the media to be noteworthy. Why is this? If a woman was killed by a stranger, it would be all over the news but when killed by her partner it is insignicant?!?
Stephen Lewis in his Forward to the book “The War on Women” says that as a society, we should see the murder of a woman by by an intimate partner to be an appalling breach of trust and that we should mark such murders with more reverence and attention than other murders. But this is not what happens.
Second, I am frustrated by what appears to be a lack of concern by the police in this matter. The way I came to know about this story is that a friend of mine had had a few brief encounters with Ms. Priester. He was very concerned for her safety and had passed his concern on to the police but the article does not suggest that the police had done anything to try to prevent this tragedy.
Finally I was angered to read the last line of the newspaper article. It reads, “Investigators are calling this a domestic homicide and have determined the death is not linked to other recent murders.” By calling Ms. Priester’s death a “domestic homicide” the horrific nature of what happened to this woman, not only in her last minutes of life, but in the years leading up to it are some how “domesticated” and made not so bad. Furthermore, we are encouraged to feel that this “domestic homicide” has nothing to do with the rest of us. There are no “links”. How appalling. Let’s not forget that 2 women every week are murdered by their intimate partner’s in Canada. How about for a link! When are we going to stop seeing such tradgic losses as isolated events instead of seeing them for what they really are, part of the pattern of hatred and violence that some men exact on their partners.
I know almost nothing about Hedrikje Priester. Was she a mother, a grandmother? Who did she love and who loved her? Who is grieving her loss? I for one want to take a moment to remember this woman. I hope you will too.