Saturday, 29 May 2010

Thought Picnic: Disowned in life and loved in death


Ipswich was hardly a wish
A few years ago a serial killer was nabbed in a town I once lived in, Ipswich, well, I usually say I died in Ipswich for 2 years – a big town, quite parochial, very provincial and I could not say I was welcomed with open arms when I was there between 1995 and 1997.
When I returned for 6 months in 1999/2000, I thought I had matured enough to handle the idiosyncrasies that defined the capital of sleepy Suffolk but that really presaged my decision to leave the United Kingdom for good – on May the 20th, that was 10 years ago – I got bored of living in the United Kingdom, I had done all that I thought I needed to do.
On the advice of an occupational psychotherapist, I was to try something completely different like change my career, change my residence, change something that resets my comfort zone – moving to the Netherlands was it.
A convenient narrative
Anyway, only yesterday, there was the arraignment of another alleged serial killer but this time up North in England, Bradford in fact, where he gave his name as the Crossbow Cannibal drawing gasps from the public gallery and garnering every news headline possible for the day.
However, my concern is about the narrative that follows the discovery of these serial murders, in all cases the victims were women, whose complicated lives included prostitution for all sorts of reasons.
Whilst I will not say that people engage in prostitution as a matter of choice, I find that a template has been provided for these stories, the women are supposed to be social misfits, on drugs and needing to feed a drug habit, so never in control of their life situations.
They by fate meet a malevolent patron who butchers them and dumps their bodies somewhere. It is a sad tale and a very heart-rending situation that is not exacerbated by the activities that follow the discoveries of the deaths.
Suddenly they have family
In both cases, what throws me is that these women suddenly have family after death, a good deal of them come out clamouring for justice, blaming the authorities and hardly reviewing their responsibilities – it is a damning note on the sense of family and community that we all sometimes pretend to espouse.
Here are women who in life were outcasts, disowned and literally abandoned by omission, commission or some situation not too evident that at death suddenly are loving daughters, mothers and beautiful friends to be remembered as victims who no more bring embarrassment to their survivors – it is all too convenient.
There is a need for great reflection on this, death should not be the path to redemption, the presence of life most offer hope and long before the dangerous and heinous overtakes events – I am in two minds as to whether the families of the brutally murdered do really deserve condolences, sympathies or a stern talking to.

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