Monday, April 06, 2009

Murder vs Murder

Two reports of murder in the news today. One in The Independent, one on the BBC. There are some similarities. In both cases a parent murders their own children. But in one case the murderer is a guy, in the other case a woman. Look at the difference in the reporting:

James Harrison murdered his five children "because his wife was leaving him". That excuse is given in the headline. He killed them but it was her fault. Later it emerges he may not have been quite the devoted heartbroken husband he was making out "Candy Johnson, an aunt of the mother, described Harrison as a strict, controlling husband and father who didn't allow his wife to make decisions without asking him first. 'My niece has been so controlled from the time she was young,' Johnson said, adding that Harrison had got the mother pregnant when she was 13."

There is however no excuse given for Jael Mullings murder of her two children. Authorities were called to her home shortly before the murders because she was seen screaming and mumbling in the street but didn't have the good sense to take the children somewhere safe at that time. No mention is made of the children's father who had left the mentally ill mother in sole charge of his two children. Doesn't anyone think as a 21-year-old woman, being left to look after two small boys might actually be the cause of mental health problems?

Or do men have a right to leave women in the lurch that women don't have?


Rosemary Cottage said...

Yet another father kills his own children and all we're given by the media is the "loving father spurned by evil woman" tale. Makes me so angry.

Don't know if you're aware, but there is a large number of children who are killed or otherwise abused on access visits by fathers that the mothers have been fighting to stop. Something MRAs like F4J won't tell you, of course.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not condoning the mother who killed her own children. As someone who has suffered PND / clinical depression I feel uneasy when I hear "mental health problems" being used as a reason for why someone would kill their own children (because some people then hear "depression" and think "oh god she must be a danger to her child" - seriously - as if there wasn't already enough of a stigma.

But the way she has been pilloried in the media in comparison to the father defies sense.


James Morrison made a choice to murder his female partner's five children but the male-dominant media re-interpreted Harrison's crime. Instead it was Harrison's female partner who is to blame for supposedly causing Harrison to murder her children.

Jael Mullings however, has a history of mental illness and she had sought help from various agencies including Health and Social Services.

Jael Mullings was not responsible for murdering her two children because legally if it can be proved she was 'insane' when she committed the murders then she cannot be held responsible.

But the media is not concerned with the issue of government institutions once again failing to provide adequate care and support to a woman who is suffering from a severe mental illness. Instead this poor woman has been demonised by the male-dominant media.

I am not pathologising this woman but the fact is she is suffering from a severe mental illness and yes, some women do murder their children due to their mental illness. What must be understood is that 'mental illness' in itself does not mean any woman who is suffering from this will immediately be a threat to other women and children. It is more complex than that but the media and society prefers to put all women affected by 'mental illness' into a box labelled 'threat to society.'

Regarding men's violence against known women - there is a clear agenda being perpetrated by the media - namely, women are to blame for causing any man to commit violence against women. This applies irrespective of whether man is known to the female victim or not.

Such rhetoric is constantly used to hide and deny male accountability and responsibility.

Too many men are murdering their female partners and it is called femicide because it is the fact these women are female which is the cause of these murders. Too many men believe their female partners are their personal and sexual property.