Cathy Reilly Mug

Cathy Reilly, Assistant to the Publisher

A horrific crime happened in my neighborhood this past weekend. It took place in a drug store that I have gone to countless times since it opened nearly 20 years ago.  A young woman of 17, still technically a child, was brutally murdered by a male coworker. She was only doing her job and was killed in the employee breakroom. The store she worked at was open and customers shopped as she lost her life but the victim’s death was not discovered until a coworker realized she’d never returned from her break.

There’s some solace knowing the suspect in her killing was taken into custody the following day. But it is of no comfort whatsoever to read that this young woman had reported to store management as far back as a year ago that she was being harassed by the employee who allegedly killed her. More recently, news reports note, she had asked to work at times when he would not be there but was told by her higher-ups that nonetheless, she would still be working with him. WTAF?!?

I found the following in an article about violence against women in The Guardian:: “According to the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], homicide is the fourth leading cause of death for girls and women one to 19 years old, and the fifth leading cause of death for women 20 to 44.” The article went on to say that “...According to analysis of FBI data, of all female homicides accounted for in 2018 where the relationship between perpetrator and victim could be identified, 92% of cases involved women or girls killed by a man they knew….” These are statistics referring to rates of femicide in the United States. While much of the article refers to domestic violence, it is still chilling to learn of the high percentage of females in the U.S. being killed by someone known to them.

What can women in our country do if the system fails to protect them? I have always practiced and advocated for the buddy system. Just last week I mentioned to a friend that it is important to let others know when deviating from previously communicated plans. That way people will know to check in on one another to make sure all is well. In a work situation, this is apparently just as important. Women cannot wait for the world to protect us. We all must take precautions and look out for one another.

I fear that we are trending toward increasing violence against women as our rights regarding our bodily integrity are further eroded. And this increasing control over women is largely engineered by men. It is beyond terrifying and enraging. Women are our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, cousins, daughters, granddaughters, friends, coworkers and neighbors and are just as deserving of life and liberty as men.

But this poor young woman will never get a chance to experience these rights because she was senselessly murdered. I ache for her, her family and our community. We must do more.

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