Fear of a bad man

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


4 Responses

  1. Salaam waleykum!
    We do live in fear just because we’re women, I agree with you. And part of what’s wrong with these prison sentences is that they are not designed to rehabilitate or explore what is wrong with peopled who do this, they’re just designed to get them off the street for X amount of years.

  2. Walikum Salaam,

    Property crimes, crimes involving substance abuse are crimes for which the offenders can be rehabilitated and far more resources should be used to do so.

    However, I do not believe serial sex offenders or murderers of women can be rehabilitated and statistics would strongly support that theory. Also, there are some crimes for which the perpetrator deserves to be permanently deprived of their freedom.

    If I am honest, I think the man in the post deserves to die and that is not a statment I make lightly. At the very least, he should die in Prison.

    I also think Angelika Kluk’s family should sue the Probabtion Service for failing to monitor Mr *****. Had they done so, she wouldn’t have met such a horrific death.

  3. Agreed–there are cases where men who commit such crimes have no intention of stopping (Ted Bundy, for instance). But at the very least we should study these people and try to figure out what set them on this path–we don’t know all there is to know about what causes this behavior and we don’t even know if rehabilitation and psychological analysis works.

    We live in cultures that dehumanize women and give them second-class status (I’m speaking from a Western perspective here); surely the culture itself can contribute to this behavior. If we create a monster through culturally misogynistic messages, can we really be shocked that our monster exhibits behaviors that derive from these harmful images/messages?

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