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First, I just want to say that in searching Google Images for a photo of Yeardly Love, I began to cry. There are tons of pictures of her and also of her ex-boyfriend George Huguely who killed her. I didn’t know Yeardly and I didn’t know George but they were young and both of their photos made me sad because it shouldn’t have ended this way. It needs to be reflected in the society that we respect women enough that not even one would ever be murdered.

George Huguely was 22 year old Yeardly Love’s ex-boyfriend and he killed her when he was drunk, in Virginia. I’m making a point of saying it was in Virginia because I think it is interesting this is going on at the same time that all the fights about women’s rights and choices are going on. People may not like to make the connection because what happened to Yeardly is such a horrible tragedy. If I was a part of Yeardly’s family, the contraception issues would seem superficial and trite and for that reason I almost hate to connect them. But unfortunately they are very connected because when women have more rights in a society, they are viewed as valuable. They are respected. They have a degree of power. When this happens, there is less violence against women.

The proposed laws in Virginia around contraception are meant to control women just like violence by an intimate partner is used to control a woman. Intimate partner violence is another name for domestic violence, but is felt to better include couples who may not live together or be married. Victims of intimate partner violence are overwhelmingly women and their perpetrators are overwhelmingly men. It is seen as an increasing public health problem, which certainly it is, but is also a problem with women staying alive.

Not only are women psychologically abused, beaten, sexually assaulted, and raped, they are often killed. It happens all the time around the world and when it happens in countries like Afganistan, Pakistan, or India, a lot of us can see the connection between how women are treated poorly and have few rights and we shake our heads out of disbelief and say how awful it is. But it happens in the U.S. too- and more often than we think.

The Bureau of Justice reported that in 2005, 1,181 women were murdered by an intimate partner. “That’s an average of three women every day. Of all the women murdered in the U.S., about one-third were killed by an intimate partner.” So that’s approximately 3550 women murdered annually in the U.S.

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which includes crimes that were not reported to the police, 232,960 women in the U.S. were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006. That’s more than 600 women every day. That’s about one woman sexually assaulted or raped every 2 and 1/2 minutes. Yikes!

These are symptoms of a larger society. It is a society that does not value women. And then young women like Yeardly Love are killed.

Prosecutors said she died from blunt force to the head and they “painted a portrait of Huguely as a violent and enraged man who savagely beat Love in her bedroom and left her there to die.”

He was violent and he was enraged. There’s no way to ignore that. And he killed her, whether he meant to or not. Intent versus impact; she’s dead and he took her life.

The defense argued that Huguely was troubled and having problems with alcohol but only went to visit her to talk to her and then pushed her around a bit, but that he didn’t do anything severe enough to kill her.

I’m not sure how they figure that when she died from blunt trauma to the head. Plus, if he was drunk, he may not know what he did. And alcohol isn’t an excuse.

Huguely sounds like he wasn’t emotionally well or even okay and needed help. Now it’s too late. He had acted out violently before and had admitted to having a problem with alcohol, he obviously wasn’t mentally stable and he took it out on his ex-girlfriend. It is easy to do that in a culture that doesn’t respect women. And it’s unacceptable. He was supposedly upset with her for having been with someone else. Newsflash: she wasn’t his property.

But patriarchy teaches us all that women are men’s property, that’s why so many women are killed. Laws like the anti-choice laws where women are seen as unfit to make decisions about their bodies, reinforce the notion that women are property, objects, and inhuman. Those laws will lead to more women, like Yeardly Love being killed.

This is a worldwide issue. It is a tragedy. It is femicide.

Taking away women’s rights and killing innocent women- both are happening in Virginia. Both are happening in our country and both need to end.

Grrl Code: Stop Patriarchy from killing women like Yeardly Love. Help people understand the connection between women’s rights being taken away and the rise of violence against women.

My regrets to Yeardly Love’s family and friends who are grieving and who suffer in her absence. May you be blessed in this difficult time. This should not happen to women just because we are women. This should not happen to women.

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