Why do they kill their husbands?
A wife’s murder of her husband is not a rare crime. Among the inmates of the Cheongju Women’s Correctional Institution, about 30 percent are serving terms for killing their husbands. Murder is a heinous crime, but we often see public efforts to sympathize with and seek leniency for wives who have killed their husbands.
Last week, the Suwon District Court handed down a suspended sentence to a woman in her 80s who strangled her husband after living with him for 67 years. She had endured decades of domestic violence and cheating by her husband before recently developing symptoms of dementia. After her husband stopped her from visiting the community center for the elderly, she lost her temper and killed him.
The judge said he considered the testimony of the children and the evidence that the wife was a longtime victim of domestic violence. It is not rare for children to seek leniency for their mother and testify about the abuses committed by their father.
Recently, a women’s group sponsored a gathering of children whose mothers were serving prison terms for murdering their husbands. Many of the children said they were able to escape from hell when their fathers died and that they would have been killed by their fathers if their mothers hadn’t commited murder. They all appealed for leniency for their mothers.
At the Women’s Correctional Institution in Cheongju, about 83 percent of the women who killed their husbands suffered from continuous, heinous crimes by their husbands. Domestic violence not only causes a wife to murder her husband; about 10 times as many husbands murder their wives.
And yet, domestic violence has been ignored for a long time. We often hear that a police officer went to a home after receiving a report of domestic violence, but returned after the husband refused to cooperate with the investigation. In the meantime, the wife turned up dead. We also often see cases in which violent husbands were released, only to kill their wives a few days later.
Last week, the government announced a comprehensive measure to prevent domestic violence. It seems belated, but it’s still fortunate it has caught their attention. I hope the step will help to end domestic violence in this country once and for all.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by YANG SUNNY