Respect for women is not measured only by the often referred to “glass ceiling,” but measured by laws and compassion that protect them from domestic violence. The lack of respect became painfully clear to me during a question and answer period at a breakfast meeting.
After concluding my remarks that included alluding to a bill passed by the Legislature that upped the penalty for anyone involved in torturing and killing a dog, I said I wish there was as much compassion for women. A man in the audience remarked that I must not be aware that dogs cannot protect themselves, but women can. Unfortunately, an attitude like that exists all too often.
Out of the last 17 years, 2009 was the third deadliest with 34 adults and 14 children killed. Statistically, that is one adult murder every 7.5 days. Last year, 26 percent of all murders in Kansas were domestic violence related. What is happening in Kansas speaks for itself and it is not different in other parts of our nation.
Tragically, a mother and her two daughters were murdered Thanksgiving weekend in Burlingame. Karen Kahler had filed for divorce in January 2009, and for custody of her children, Emily and Lauren. She filed for a protective order in March and her husband, James Kraig, reportedly assaulted her on the day he was served with the order. As reported by the media, he continued to harass her by slashing her tires and ripping out her utility cables. Delays requested by the defense in the pending criminal and domestic cases allowed her husband to continue the harassment, as there were no sanctions for his violation of a no-contact order. The system failed Karen Kahler and her two children. Unfortunately, that failure occurs again and again in our state.
In 2009, Rosa M. Gomez was murdered by her ex-husband at her workplace in Salina. She had divorced him three years ago and had a protection order against him, which he violated three times before killing her. Charles R. Losey, a co-worker trying to protect her, was also murdered.
Jennie Jacobsen, a mother of three, reportedly was murdered by her boyfriend, Amando Mosqueda, in Lyons. He was on probation for aggravated battery of an ex-girlfriend who had sought protection from him twice. He previously served three years in prison for aggravated battery of a man. Jennie had filed for a protection order one week before her murder because he had threatened, bruised and strangled her.
It is my opinion that the most often committed crime in America is domestic violence, which leads to injury and murder. All Kansans should support efforts to get the Legislature to pass meaningful laws that will better protect victims of domestic violence as well as provide funding for life-saving services.
The Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence (KCSDV) has 30 statewide sexual and domestic violence advocacy programs, which provided 62,000 shelter nights, answered 45,000 crises calls, and provided 44,000 supportive counseling hours in 2008.
If you are a victim of domestic violence or know someone who is, you can call toll free 1-888-END ABUSE (1-888-363-2287) to find resources that can help.
Robert T. Stephan is chair of Gov. Mark Parkinson’s domestic violence fatality review board.