Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Oh now its a shock...

When a child goes missing or is a victim of violence the usual order of suspects is male relatives, non relative males that are close to the child, and non relative males that are not close to the child. When eight year old Sandra Cantu disappeared on March 27 I'll bet the the three groups I listed above were all they checked out as possible suspects. So now that the prime suspect is a woman people shocked. What could cause such shock?

Oh I think I have an idea. It might be smokescreens like this:
FBI statistics show women are involved in just 7 percent of murders of any sort. Solo killings of children by women are even more unusual.
and
"There was some speculation early on that [the suspect] would be a man," Sheneman said Saturday. "It's unusual for a woman -- statistically, according to the FBI -- to be involved in anything like this."
(via here, here, and here)

Notice the intentional obscurity of quoting a stat on "murders of any sort". Thing is we aren't talking about a "murder of any sort". This is specifically about the murder of a child. So lets lift that smokescreen shall we? I looked at that FBI site for a statistical breakdown of murder by gender of killer and age of victim but could not find one (but the 7% from above is there). But I did find one here.

This chart is of fatal child mistreatment in 2007 sorted by relation to the child. As you can see a little over 25% of them (27.1% to be exact) were perpetrated by the mother alone. Of the other 73.9% about 28% had a female perpetrator involved in some extent. (Mind you that is not 28% of the people in that 73.9% it is 28% subtracted from 73.9%.) That leaves 45.9% without any female perpetrator involvement. Yet its unusual to have a female suspect.

So after looking at this I can see where the stigma comes from in which whenever a violent crime is committed against a child the first round of suspects are always male even when its not a sexual crime with male specific evidence. Our society seems to have this presumption that violence (especially against children) only comes from the actions of men. That is why people are so "shocked" that a woman is the suspect in this. That is why the authorities more than likely assumed a male perpetrator from the get go. And that is why no one batted an eye at Sgt. Tony Sheneman when he said, "Finding out that it is a woman who is responsible for Sandra's kidnapping and murder, and then finding out it is a member of the community is another blow." Yes discovering that a child might have been murdered is not a blow but having a female prime suspect is. I wonder how shocked they would be if it were a male suspect.

It will be interesting to see how this turns out. And speaking of shock let me go ahead and say that I will be shocked, if in the event she is found guilty, if she doesn't get the usual female sentencing discount.

1 comment:

Pelle Billing said...

For some reason we still believe women to be incapable of violence.

I believe that the big distinction we need to make is between violence in the public sphere and the personal sphere.

In the public sphere men dominate the violence, but in the private sphere women and men have similar tendencies for violence.

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