Women’s groups across the country are demanding that the Arkansas murders of four girls and a woman and the attempted murder of 10 girls and a boy be investigated as a hate crime against women and girls. “I’m gravely concerned that everyone seems to have missed it. Every day, batterers of adult partners threaten to kill their girlfriends and wives if they dare to break up with them or dare to leave them,” said Susan McGee, Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Project, Inc./SAFE House. “The crime is about men’s entitlement to women in relationships. It is about male violence against women and girls. It mirrors the dynamics of hundreds of domestic violence homicides.”
Eleven-year-old Kara Tate, a classmate of the two suspects, said that assailant Mitchell Johnson had “said he was definitely going to shoot Candace because she had broken up with him.” Charles Vanoven, also a classmate of the boys, reported that Johnson “told me yesterday that all the people who broke up with him, you know, he was going to come to school tomorrow and shoot them.” Other classmates reported that Johnson told them, “tomorrow you will find out if you live or die.”
Schoolmates and parents in the neighborhood have reported Mitchell was known “to taunt girls, sometimes cruelly,” and Golden “struck some girls in the neighborhood,” according to a Washington Post article. Rachelle Smith, an educator on teen violence, said “This is the exact behavior we see daily in men who batter their wives and girlfriends. We are missing the boat if we address the issue only as one of teen violence in general, and fail to address the overarching epidemic of violence against women.”
A 1997 Department of Justice study on domestic violence revealed an increase in violence against women. The report indicated that women are twice as likely as men to be stalked by an intimate partner, 59% of female stalking victims are stalked by former intimate partners, and that 80% of those victims were assaulted by their partners.
McGee said, “to prevent future murders of girls, we must understand the dynamics of this murder, and all the murders of women and girls by male intimate partners. This should be a wake-up call to the nation. All of our daughters are in danger.”
A SAFE House press release called for the “enlistment of men and boys in the fight to end violence against women and girls; prevention programs focusing on gender, relationships and violence in every school in the country; and massive media attention focused on the problems of dating and domestic violence.”
Domestic Violence Information Center