I’m sure you’ve heard of the tragic fate of 30-year old Swedish journalist Kim Wall a couple of weeks back. Kim was brutally murdered, and her body ‘deliberately mutilated’ by Danish inventor and submarine-owner Peter Madsen, during what was supposed to be a brief journey and an insightful interview for a report she was working on about submarines. Her headless torso was found by a cyclist a week later, somewhere along the Danish coast.
Last week, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers published a cover story headlined something along the lines of “Her desire to tell the truth became the end of her”. The headline sparked a big debate in Sweden—one, because it wasn’t her desire to tell the truth that took her life—a cold-blooded murderer did—and two, because of the way society judges a woman for ‘putting herself in danger’ by going to conduct an interview with a man without another person accompanying her. Just a couple of days ago I was chatting with a few male-friends who said exactly that—“I would never let my girlfriend go for an interview alone like that with another man”, “She definitely should have been more careful” and “What was she thinking though?”.
What so deeply touches me, as a woman, is the way I relate to Kim and her story. Her fate tells us, that no matter how successful a woman is—a global traveller, a degree-holder of a prominent university, a freelance-journalist of some of the most highly regarded publications in the world, a brave, independent, fearless role model—we still struggle to escape from the preset, societal mindset of what it means to be born a woman. A woman on Facebook wrote a post likening the case to the story of the Little Red Riding Hood—a brave girl who misjudged the danger of the situation, and in return, paid with her life.
Kim Wall’s tragic fate further reminds us, that despite progress with equality, women’s rights, the way society looks at women and the way we look at ourselves – we sadly still have a long, long way to go. Sometimes I wonder if it could ever change?
A member of WAC asked today – ‘I wonder what the media would say about a man who went to check out a submarine, and very sadly ended up the same way?’ Would we still ask ourselves the question: “How could he?!”
Personally, I would never think twice about going for a meeting alone with any man, especially not if I was back home in ‘safe’ Sweden/Scandinavia. My boyfriend often tells me to be more careful, when taking a taxi, when traveling alone with a man, or just running an errand at night or somewhere new. We currently live in India, where women is even more at risk, yet I’ve always found it difficult to accept; having to hold back and think twice because I’ve been born a woman.
I hope and pray that Kim, her family & her friends, find justice and peace.