LETTER- Society accepts women's degradation

God bless Courteney Stuart for her thorough and humane article on the murder of Sarah Crawford ["Guilty," cover story February 15]. This story is shockingly common– a woman tries to leave her abusive husband and is threatened, abused, or murdered.

This violence is so common in our culture that it has become invisible. During a several-month period last year when school girls at an Amish school and at a Colorado public high school were singled out for sexual assault in one case and murder in the other, news organizations and people across the country largely ignored the fact that girls alone were the targets. The notable exception was an editorial by Bob Herbert in an Oct0ber 16, 2006 opinion piece in the New York Times:

"[After these crimes] little was made of the fact that only girls were targeted. Imagine if a gunman had gone into a school, separated the kids on the basis of race or religion, and then shot only the black kids. Or only the white kids. Or only the Jews.

"There would have been thunderous outrage. The country would have... mobilized to eradicate the murderous bigotry. There would have been calls for action and reflection. The attack would have been seen for what it really was: a hate crime.

"None of that occurred because these were just girls, and we have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that violence against females is more or less expected. Stories about the rape, murder, and mutilation of women and girls are... as familiar to us as weather forecasts."

Sarah Crawford was attacked and killed because she was an ordinary woman trying to leave a bad relationship. Her story, tragically, has become as familiar as a weather forecast. Stuart's article shines light on her as a human being with problems, dreams, friends, a job, parents, who has now died in a brutal, humiliating way at the hands of someone she once trusted and even tried to help.

Until we begin to pay attention to these women and girls, unless we raise the visibility and end the complacency around such crimes, they will likely continue unabated. I pray that they don't continue to be as familiar as a weather forecast.

Thank you to The Hook for giving the story the attention it deserves.

Christine E. Black