Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why Cleveland Women were “Invisible?”

How could 11 women in the same town disappear over two years without public notice? The story of the 11 women disappearing in Cleveland was an intriguing and emotional one. They were all bound to the quiet neighborhood of Mount Pleasant, where they grew lived before disappearance, all mothers, some grandmothers, and some second cousins. Almost all struggled with a drug addiction at some point in their lives. Court records show many resorted to stealing and some turned to prostitution to support their habits. Tonia Carmichael was seen by some as superwoman, she used to fly out to do overtime at work and sneak back with a storm of gifts for her children. She was the best person in the world, hard working, dedicated, an unstoppable force. But by the time her youngest was 12; she had become increasingly become addicted to cocaine and was no longer his super mom but a crack cocaine addict, as said in the CNN Justice Article. She would randomly leave and disappear for days or even weeks so when she was confirmed missing on November 10, 2008 it was no surprise to her children. Her older daughter was so upset with her; she respected her and loved her mother but hated her ways. At the time that she went missing Crystal Dozier, 38, Tishanna Culver, 29, Le'Shanda Long, 25, and Michelle Mason, 44 were missing too. Six more women would disappear after 52-year-old Tonia: Kim Yvette Smith, 43, Nancy Cobbs, 43, Amelda Hunter, 46, Telacia Fortson, 31, Janice Webb, 48, Diane Turner, 38.

These women were found in October 2009 -- all on one man's property, Anthony Sowell. Police believe the women were easy prey for Anthony, a convicted sex offender who served 15 years for the attempted rape of a woman in 1989. Sowell, now 51, had moved to the home on Imperial Avenue in 2005, after his release from prison. He has been charged with eleven murders, two rapes, one attempted rape and more than seventy other related charges. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and is scheduled to go to trial in February 2011, according to the prosecutor's office.

Since the bodies were discovered, other women have come forward, alleging Sowell attacked them. The bodies were not found for so long because people did not believe they were dead, and even if they were people believed it was their own fault. Some observers suggest the location of the crimes explains why the bodies went overlooked. There is a suspicion echoing among Cleveland residents, particularly in the black community: that the lives of poor black women aren't worth much, certainly less than if they had been suburban white women. The lives of these women were overlooked and ignored due to a nasty addiction, and this dismissal has lead them to a cease in their lifetime.

The bodies at Sowell's home were finally discovered when a 36-year-old Cleveland woman went to police. On September 23, 2009, she reported that Sowell had invited her into his home for beer. Her description of what happened there was eerily similar to the events laid out by Sowell's 1989 victim and later by Gladys Wade, a victim who frantically reached out to police about her incident. They entered his home on October 29, 2009. First, they discovered two bodies rotting in the attic, then five more buried in the backyard. Eventually the body count reached eleven. This man devastated homes and took away lives, which he had no right to. These women left behind children and grandchildren who will never get the change to know them because they lives were cut too short. Do you believe that the lives of these women were worthless and their deaths should have been ignored? Is it okay that when white women disappear there is more media coverage and community focus on the issue? Ask yourself!

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