For most, New Years Eve was a time for being with friends and family, thinking about our achievements and hopes… It’s symbolic of different things for every person. This year, New Years Eve was a symbol of the beginning of a 20 year sentence in jail, for a man who decided to leave a women’s healthcare facility in Pensacola, FL in shambles, by burning it down.
That same night, in the Austin community where our Headquarters is located, it was the beginning of a homicide and double assault investigation, regarding the murder of a woman who volunteered her time empowering young girls at the Girls Rock Camp of Austin, the assault of a female pedestrian and the home invasion and sexual assault of another woman in the same neighborhood. It’s also been the beginning of questioning how safe we are, even after calling the police, if we are attacked in our own neighborhood at night.
Luckily, nobody was harmed in the women’s clinic fire. And there’s no comparing a burnt down building to the murder of a young woman. However, when it comes to safety and the way women interact with the world we live in, we say enough is enough, no matter the charge.
If women deserve to feel as free in this world as anyone else, then what is this ever-looming threat that women are faced with, whether at work, at the Doctor’s office or in their homes?
The truth is, we don’t deserve to lock our doors more tightly, to be afraid to live alone, walk alone or sleep alone, because we are women. We also don’t deserve to be told what decision is best for us, where we should work, with whom we should have our healthcare appointments and what to be told when we do. We don’t deserve to go to sleep thinking about clinic protestor mug-shots, or police sketches and we certainly don’t deserve to live in fear of arson, murder or rape.
We’re calling out these two events for what they are: Targeted violence against women, their bodies and their lives. It’s about time for us to start feeling safe.
This year, like last year and all of the years before, we will not only be standing up, but we will be taking steps against violent crimes directed towards women, the welfare of their bodies and their lives. Every single Whole Woman’s Health Clinic is a safe place to call, receive counseling, referrals and support from if you are in need. Make it a resolution to walk with us towards the end of that long tunnel this year.
We hope you all stay safe, keep it positive and feel as free as you should be in 2012.