From Jean Calder
Karina Menzies died on 19th October 2012 when a van ploughed into her, apparently deliberately, outside a fire-station in Ely. It was one of a series of hit and run incidents in Cardiff, in five separate locations. It was the time of the school run and Ms Menzies was with two of her three daughters, one 8 years old and the other a toddler of 23 months. It is reported Ms Menzies pushed the children as far as possible out of harm’s way, but took the full force of the van herself.
There were fourteen victims in total, most of them female. Of the seven children who were hit, six were girls. Eyewitnesses said pedestrian victims were deliberately targeted by a man driving a white van.
News channels have presented this as an apparently deliberate, but almost certainly random attack on pedestrians by a driver with whom they had no connection. Very few journalists have acknowledged that the majority of those injured were female. Still less have they queried whether this fact was a matter of co-incidence or chance. This is a common response where multiple female victims of violence are concerned.
It is worth considering what the journalistic response would have been if this had been a white man driving at groups of black people, injuring a majority of black people and killing one. Even if one or two whites had been injured, there is no doubt that the possibility of racist attack would be central to the questioning of and by police, local politicians and community leaders. In this case, given that the majority of victims are female, the media and others speak only of the community’s grief, its anger and desire for justice. One thing they do not talk about, in fact it is never mentioned, is sexism. Yet the memorial service which took place this evening in Ely, was packed with grieving women and girls and the sense of anger and confusion was palpable
For Our Daughters works to raise awareness that sexist attitudes of resentment and contempt for women, can and do give rise to lethal violence. An important part of combating this violence is to begin to face the fact that, in some cases, attacks which appear ‘random’ may in fact be nothing of the kind. Such attitudes do not serve victims well, still less the cause of justice.
It is now widely accepted that racism can give rise to violent crime, and must be actively confronted. In the same way, we must learn to tackle sexism as a cause of violence. Unless we do, women and girls will continue to die.
21st October 2012