By Stephen Janis, Special to the AFRO
The consequences of Baltimore’s ongoing struggle with violence usually falls squarely on the shoulders of men, and in most cases men that are young and African- American.
But, the latest rash of killings include a string of female victims, an ominous sign that the city’s penchant for murder is indiscriminate as it is vast, say activists.
“While it is less common that women are murdered, women and men experience violent crime at the same rate,” Jacqueline Robarge, Executive Director of Power Inside, an organization that helps homeless and addicted women find housing an employment, told the AFRO.
Since the beginning of last week four women have been murdered in a series of crimes that include shootings, beatings, strangulation. The murders are an indication to people who know that city that the malaise which has engulfed Baltimore for decades remains a potent force that adheres to an inscrutable logic which seems to have fewer boundaries.
One of the victims was 20-year old Jasmine Morris. Her body was found June 11 in the bleachers of Reginald Lewis High School lying face down in a pool of blood with her hands tied behind her back.
Police say she showed signs of blunt force trauma. Last week homicide detectives arrested a former acquaintance, Christopher Rather, 22. He has been charged with first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment.
Just prior to her murder, WBAL-TV reported, Morris texted friends that she was planning to meet Rather at the school, a face to face encounter she hoped would end his infatuation with her.
But while Morris’ death is a case of alleged acquaintance violence, the other killings indicate that, similar to the mayhem that has engulfed men, the recent spate of female victims are often caught in the constant barrage of gunfire that erupts with fearsome regularity across the city
Last week, two other women were murdered along with Morris in less that 24-hours. And like the series of recent shootings, the killings were the result of gunfire.
Police say Allison Henn, 29, was shot around 10 p.m., June 11 in the 4800 block of Pimlico Rd. So far, police do not have motives or a suspect in the case.
That same day the body of Kataya Nelson, 29, was found roughly an hour after Henn, in the 1100 block of Fremont Ave., also a victim of a shooting.
On June 16, Jeremiah Harper, 21, was gunned down in the 3900 block of Edmondson Ave., along with a yet to be identified 37-year old male. Police don’t have a motive or suspects, but the double homicide was one of 7 separate shootings that occurred over the weekend.
In fact, that same evening police reported a 44-year-old woman was shot in the 1000 block of Stoddard Court. Police say she survived.
The recent rash of female victims doesn’t necessarily point to a trend. The Baltimore Sun reported that women on average comprise ten percent of the city’s homicide victims. This year they represent 16 percent of people killed.
But, Robarge says that homicides are a small part of the story of how women are affected by violence in the city.
“When we focus on the murder rate, as if it is the only measure, we obscure the danger that women and girls live with everyday,” Robarge said.
“One in six women have been sexually assaulted — Where is the uproar in Baltimore?”