Monday, April 27, 2009

UGA Professor Murders Wife, Others

We are following the domestic violence homicides which took place in Athens this weekend and will provide you with updates as they become available.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Motive unclear", no mention of domestic violence
AJC: He was a "respected professor on campus"
Online Athens: A "crime of passion"
Online Athens: Killer had two guns in car with his children, children in vehicle during shootings
ABC: Rumors of an affair (victim blaming), friend killed because he intervened in argument

Online Athens: "Investigators don't know if Zinkhan is hiding or, as in many domestic violence murders, committed suicide." - props to the reporter for labeling this domestic violence

AJC: More victim blaming - "professor's wife wanted a divorce", "marital discord", "controlling behaviors"

Online Athens: First wife had a restraining order against him during their divorce Zinkhan's body found, GBI confirms suicide

There are a few things that deserve comment.

First, so many of these articles feel the need to discuss what a great guy Zinkhan was, how well regarded he was in the University, and how no one expected these murders. It's as if we expect batterers to look a certain way and for us to be able to spot them a mile off. As we've learned over many years, batterers look like your son, your dad, your pastor, your boss, your best friend, and your brother-in-law. Batterers are homeless and live in mansions. Batterers are doctors and lawyers and waiters and cashiers. That is why it is so important to believe women's stories; we can't always tell what batterers are capable of, but their victims can.

Second, it is true that there are often warning signs in violent relationships, but many times there isn't a history of physical abuse before an extreme act of violence (like murder) takes place. However, if he owns a gun, has had a restraining order taken out against him in the past, and his current wife has reported controlling behavior, those are considered by us in the field to be red flags for future violence.

Third, neither infidelity, divorce, passion, or marital discord can cause domestic violence or make a woman to blame for violence used against her. Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling behaviors over time which can sometimes end in an ultimate act of control, murder. If a batterer feels that he's losing control over his partner because she is trying to leave or has found someone else, he can become exponentially more dangerous, but she certainly cannot be blamed for causing another person to commit a crime.

Fourth, domestic violence is not a private matter. So many of us are not willing to speak up against violence because we think it isn't our business or that if we speak up, others will think we're being battered too. As this case illustrates, however, domestic violence spills out into the public in very dangerous ways, and, by taking a stand, we are working to make our entire community, public spaces and private, safer for everyone.

Finally, murders are unfortunately common ends to violent relationships and, as mentioned in the Online Athens article, many perpetrators also take their own lives afterward. In the state of Georgia there have already been 30 domestic violence homicides in 2009. The only way the violence will stop is if we as community members call it what it is - domestic violence rather than marital discord - and take a stand against its presence in our families and communities.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Actress from Slumdog Millionaire Up for Sale

Nine-year old Indian actress Rubina Ali who played the youngest version of Latika, the female lead, in the film Slumdog Millionaire is reportedly for sale by her father.

In a bid to escape India's real-life slums, Rafiq Qureshi put angel-faced darling of the Oscars Rubina up for adoption, demanding millions of rupees worth £200,000.

Her uncle told undercover reporters, "Obviously if you wanted to adopt we could discuss this, but her parents would also expect some proper compensation in return." In another phone call, father Rafiq coolly confirmed: "Whatever you have discussed with Rajan, I agree with. Whatever money is agreed by Rajan, I will accept.

"We can discuss everything about this deal when we meet. There's a lot of interest in Rubina, she's become very famous."

Without querying the background, intentions, or even the names of Rubina's prospective new parents, Rafiq arranged to meet us.

And as soon as we said the wealthy family lived in the United Arab Emirates Rafiq suggested: "We would love to come there.

"I have never been there but I have seen it in Indian films. It looks a great place."

Trafficking of poor Indian children to the Middle East, where they are forced to risk their lives as camel jockeys or subjected to sexual abuse, is common in the Mumbai slums.
It is common all over South Asia.

A brother sold both his sisters because he could not pay his debts. His younger sister was only nine years old. He was not aware of the darkness in which he was pushing his sisters and today he does not know where they are and what happened to them. More than one lakh Nepali girls are working in prostitution houses. They are bought from Kathmandu and sold in Mumbai.

Poverty is not the only cause that forces girls to become prostitutes. An eleven-year-old girl was raped by four men who were 35 years of age and above. To solve the matter, one of them offered to marry her. As a result of trafficking, many girls eventually land up in prostitution houses.

Girls once bought are taken to Delhi where they are taught how to dress up and apply make up. Television and radio have a huge impact on naïve girls. They too want to wear nice clothes and lead the glamorous lives that the people in television are living. Therefore to fulfil their dreams they are talked into taking up prostitution.
But trafficking of young girls is certainly not limited to Asia. Atlanta is a global hub for human trafficking, and is the capital of sex trafficking in the United States. Instead of traveling to Thailand to have sex with a child, many men simply come to Atlanta. They are picked up at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport by a pimp who takes them to have sex with a child slave. They are then dropped back at the airport and fly back home to have dinner with their family the same night.

To learn more about human trafficking, here and abroad, visit

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Roswell man kills mother of his kids

Another Georgia woman was killed by her abuser this weekend.

Calvin Meyers, 37, apparently rammed his car into the front of the townhome he shared with 40-year-old Minka R. Grogan, before bashing Grogan over the head with landscaping rock, police said.

Meyers was being charged with two counts of aggravated assault late Saturday night, Roswell police spokesman Lt. James McGee said, but more charges are pending.

Meyers is the father of two of Grogan’s four children, McGee said.

Police received a report of a disturbance on Streamside Drive around 1:30 p.m., and arrived to find Grogan dead in front of her next-door neighbor’s home, a car crashed into the front of her townhome, and Meyers barricaded in the apartment.

An unnamed friend of Grogan, who told police he was there to mow her lawn and was upstairs showering, came out when he heard the car crashing downstairs, McGee said.

After attacking Grogan, police said Meyers went after the friend with a butcher knife. The friend ran back upstairs and locked himself in the bathroom, police said.

A SWAT team was called in as the suspect hurled TVs, musical instruments and toys out the window at police, McGee said.

During the commotion, the friend escaped from the townhome, police said.

Police remained on the scene for several hours, McGee said. A negotiator eventually reached Meyers’ sister, who talked him into surrendering himself.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Grogan family, especially to her children.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hulk Hogan: "I Totally Understand OJ"

Pro wrestling legend Hulk Hogan, embroiled in a bitter divorce with his wife, Linda, told Rolling Stone magazine he can "totally understand" O.J. Simpson, the former football great found liable for the deaths of his wife and another man.

"I could have turned everything into a crime scene like O.J., cutting everybody's throat," Hogan said in the interview for a feature that will run in Friday's edition of the magazine.

"You live half a mile from the 20,000-square-foot home you can't go to anymore, you're driving through downtown Clearwater [Florida] and see a 19-year-old boy driving your Escalade, and you know that a 19-year-old boy is sleeping in your bed, with your wife ...

"I totally understand O.J. I get it," Hogan said.

A spokeswoman for Rolling Stone magazine confirmed the quote to CNN.
These comments illustrate a sense of entitlement that so many batterers seem to feel. He lists his wife amongst the possessions that he misses, including his house and car, and seems to find the most anger in someone else playing with his toys. In fact, he's so mad that he can't have her and someone else can, he could understand taking her life.

He wouldn't be the first pro wrestler to do so. And, as we near the second anniversary of Chris Benoit's murder of his family, his wife's description of a home life full of fear and anger makes us certain that this is more than simply hyperbole. When a man feels like he could make statements like this to a national magazine and get away with it, what else does he feel he could get away with? Especially since the man whose murders he cites, whom he is certain is guilty, never went to jail.

Friday, April 10, 2009

He "Just" Killed His Girlfriend

The following is an op-ed written by Meg Rogers, the Executive Director of the Cherokee Family Violence Center, to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in response to this article.

Thomas West, the defense lawyer for Frederick Lee Gude – a man accused of killing his girlfriend in 2004 – offered a disturbing but sadly all too familiar view of domestic violence in the article, “Half-decade wait in some capital cases.” He comments, “We contend it was cruel and unusual to seek the death penalty in a case where you are just accused of killing your girlfriend and not something more heinous” [our emphasis]. Setting aside the question of whether it is ever justified to seek the death penalty, the second half of Mr. West's quote is what caught my attention, for it speaks volumes about a very common way in which our society minimizes violence when it is committed against an intimate partner. Apparently, in the minds of some, "just... killing your girlfriend" (by allegedly stabbing her with an ice pick over 30 times) does not constitute a heinous crime. Over 100 people are killed due to domestic violence each year in Georgia . Nationwide, more women are killed by an intimate partner than by all other persons. Domestic violence is an epidemic in our communities. Dismissing the most violent form, homicide, as an inconsequential crime is a dangerous and hateful disservice to all who survive and to all who have lost their lives due to it.

Rape and domestic violence are the only crimes in our society in which the victim is blamed for the perpetrator’s actions. Why is it that these crimes, largely perpetrated by men towards women, are ignored or explained away? Why must these women bear the brunt of their perpetrator’s violence? In modern times, most would scoff at the archaic idea that a man owns his wife (or girlfriend). However, comments such as that by Thomas West remind us that many still hold a misogynistic attitude that justifies violence by men in an intimate relationship. In such a violent world, the home and an intimate relationship should be a safe harbor. How then, do we come to accept or minimize the problem of domestic violence? The fact is that already this year -- just since January 1, 2009 -- 23 people in Georgia have already died due to domestic violence.

Studies show that one out of every three women will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. Comments like those of West further isolate victims of domestic violence from helpful resources and undermine the gravity of abuse and horror that they experience. As a community, we must stand up to domestic violence. We can end domestic violence, but only when communities choose to come together to state that this type of violence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This work requires us to challenge the belief systems that allow us to shrug off "just killing a girlfriend," to stop blaming victims for the abuse, to stop minimizing the life-changing terror and trauma that is being inflicted, to hold batterers accountable for their violence, and to be agents of change rather than silent witnesses to the crime of domestic terrorism. There is help out there for anyone experiencing abuse or for their friends and family who want to help. Call the 24-hour, statewide hotline 1-800-33-HAVEN (800-334-3826) voice/TTY for information and resources.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How We Make It The Victim's Fault

Kathy, a guest blogger at Shakesville, points out a disturbing trend in the reporting on a Washington state man who murdered his five children and then himself.

It's a horrific story, and of course the press are all over it, trying to figure out why it happened. And what have they found? You guessed it -- there's a woman to blame. Or at least that's what you'd think if you read the headlines:
  • Yahoo News - "Police: Dad Killed 5 Kids Because Wife Was Leaving"

  • Kansas City Star - "Man Who Apparently Killed His 5 Children 'Devestated' [sic] over Wife Leaving"

  • AFP - "Spurned by Wife, Man Kills His Five Children, Self" (note they're his children rather than their children)

  • CNN - "Husband Saw Wife with Another Man before Killing Kids"

  • My local paper (no link available)- "Police: Kids Killed Because Mom Left"
Yep -- mom did it.

According to the AP story:
The night before, the father and his eldest daughter went in search of the wife, Angela Harrison. The daughter used a GPS feature in her mother's cell phone to find her with another man at a convenience store in Auburn, said Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff. The woman told her husband she was not coming home, and was leaving him for the man with her at the store. The father and the daughter left, distraught, Troyer said. Sometime after the children went to sleep, he shot them each multiple times. Four died in their beds. The fifth was found in the mobile home's bathroom, surrounded by signs of violent struggle."He wanted the kids dead," Troyer said. "It wasn't like he shot a few rounds. He shot several rounds. "Investigators believe he then returned to the area near the convenience store looking for his wife. His body was found near the store, Troyer said."A working theory is that he probably went back up there looking for her, wasn't able to find her, realized the gravity of what he'd done and shot himself," Troyer said.
Regardless of whether she was leaving him, whether she "spurned" him, or whether he was distraught because their relationship was ending, he made the choice to end the lives of five innocent children as a final act of control. It also seems that he intended to end his wife's life as well. This was not a one-off incident. This man had a history of abuse and previously had an open case with the state's child welfare office. He even used his daughter to help him stalk his wife.

We need to put the blame where it belongs, on a man who was willing to view his wife and children as his belongings and say, "If I can't have them, no one can."

Friday, April 3, 2009

Georgia Fatality Review is Released

Taken from a press release by the Georgia Commission on Family Violence and the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

(Atlanta) In just two years, Georgia has improved from 7th to 14th in the nation for the rate at which men kill women in single-victim homicides, but experts say there is much more work to be done, especially in the area of educating family and friends about how to effectively support abuse victims and intervene with abusers. Today, two statewide domestic violence agencies released a report analyzing homicides and near-deadly assaults of Georgia women. The Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Georgia Commission on Family Violence have jointly published their 5th annual Domestic Violence Fatality Review Report, a document that provides analysis of cases in which Georgians have lost their lives due to domestic violence. The report also provides recommendations and strategies that communities in Georgia can utilize to end domestic violence in their area.

After reviewing 89 of Georgia’s domestic violence fatalities, the two groups found that many people experiencing domestic violence tend to seek help primarily from their friends, family members, neighbors, coworkers, employers, and faith communities. Members of these groups often try to help, but lack the tools to do so effectively. The report offers basic messages that anyone can convey to people who are being abused or abusers so that they are better prepared to respond when a friend or loved one is in a violent relationship. In addition, in all the cases reviewed, less than one-fifth of homicide victims had had contact with a domestic violence agency or safehouse in the five years leading up to the homicide – suggesting that many of those in great danger often are unaware of or not accessing available resources. “Clearly, it is imperative to find ways to connect more people with the domestic violence hotline,”said Beck Dunn, Executive Director of GCADV. The statewide, toll-free hotline number is 1-800-33-HAVEN (42836) voice/TTY.

Referencing the Violence Policy Center’s 2008 study, in which Georgia moved in just two years from 7th to 14th in the nation for the rate at which men kill women in single-victim homicides (most of which are domestic violence deaths), Kirsten Rambo, Executive Director of GCFV, noted, “We are making some good progress in Georgia, but we still have a long way to go. Domestic violence deaths can be prevented only when communities take a stand against domestic violence and work together to stop it.”

In 2008, at least 111 Georgians lost their lives to domestic violence. There were at least 118 deaths due to domestic violence in Georgia in 2007. The Domestic Violence Fatality Report can be used as a tool in every community to end violence in the home.

To access the report for free online, or for information about the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, please go to or The report is also available at