Back in the early 90’s, I read an article about the missing schoolgirl Vicky Hamilton. The devastation of her family, not knowing what had happened to her, but knowing that it was most likely something horrible, it really stayed with me. In my young mind, I had never really thought about such things. I realised that having someone you love go missing must be one of the worst things that can happen to you, I still think that now.
In 1994, Vicky was one of the missing children featured on Soul Asylum’s ”Runaway Train” video and I thought of her again, the pretty, smiling girl who went to catch a bus and never came home.
Last week, I was checking the news on my mobile, when I read the headline “Body found is missing schoolgirl Vicky Hamilton”.
I felt so relieved for her family that she had been found, but at the same time so saddened at finding out the horrible reality of what had happened to her. Hers was not the only body found in that house. Dinah McNicol was also found there, having suffered a similar fate.
It is such an ingrained fear, that of The Stranger, The Random Murderer. The reason, you don’t travel alone after ‘x’ pm, you fear deserted areas, footsteps behind you at night. All women live in fear of this to varying extents, how rational that fear is in light of statistics is debatable, but I think every woman has felt that fear.
The prison sentences given out to those who harm women do not allay these fears. The murderer of Vicky and Dinah, later raped two teenage girls. For this he was given a sentence of 14 years imprisonment, of which he served 10 years.
Two years after his release, while living under a false name he raped and murdered Angelika Kluk. Such was the brutality of this crime, police doubted it was his first murder and so proceeded to re-investigate several other murders.
When will the judges who pass these sentences realize that sex offenders do not ‘get better’, that they are likely to re-offend endlessly. Why does someone get longer in prison for armed robbery then for rape or murder? Are women’s lives so cheap, worth so little?
I once saw a plaque in remembrance of a female murder victim. It stated “She died because she was a woman”. That is true, but also true would be a statement that “She died because an evil man murdered her” and while light sentencing trends occur and monitoring of offenders on probation continues to fail, women will not just live in fear, they will die in fear too.
Vicky Hamilton 1976-1991
Angelika Kluk 1983-2006
Dinah McNicol 1973-1991
Rest in Peace
Filed under: Women's Issues |