I was asked to write about the recent abductions of women of color for this issue and initially, I felt as if my writing is not honed enough to take on a subject this delicate. I asked myself, “How will I approach this?” “what information should I discuss?,” “who should I discuss and why?,” and finally “how will I end this article?” I agreed to first research each happening, re-read each article, scan sites for various descriptions of the encounters, and go from there. All of this leads me to the first case I feel at liberty to bring to the forefront: Monica Bowie, age 34, was said to be kidnapped from an Atlanta apartment complex last July. She phoned her mother to speak about wedding plans and etc. on July 4, 2007. Unbeknownst to her, this would be the last time she heard her daughter’s voice. Now, if you are anything like me and rely totally on the media and the internet for news and current events, then this is one case you are probably unfamiliar with because there was not nearly enough media coverage as there was for Laci Peterson and Natalee Holloway. According to Creative Loafing Atlanta [www.atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/Content?imageIndex=1&oid=oid%3A273309], “Local TV stations and the AJC have reported Bowie’s disappearance and subsequent search efforts, but with less frequency, follow-up and gusto than they gave Jennifer “Runaway Bride” Wilbanks or even the recent East Atlanta kidnappings of two young attorneys. The national media (CNN, Fox and syndicated tabloid programs) have ignored it.”

A vigil [www.kdka.com/topstories/Monica.Renee.Bowie.2.390017.html] was held for Bowie in her native state of Pennsylvania on July 16, 2007. More than one hundred people were there to pray for her protection and a safe return. There was an arrest made regarding her case [www.wpxi.com/news/13652533/detail.html] , one Jasper Keels, but he was brought in on stealing the car spotted fleeing the scene and held in a DeKalb County jail and charged with “theft of a motor vehicle.” As of today, Monica Bowie is still missing.

This past September, Megan Williams, a 23-year-old Charleston (SC) native woman was kidnapped, tortured, and sexually assaulted by six West Virginia residents [www.cnn.com/2007/US/09/10/woman.tortured/index.html]. Several deputies responded to an “anonymous tip” in reference to a woman being held against her will on Saturday, September 8, 2007 in Big Creek, West Virginia. Upon speaking with a woman on the porch, the young lady hobbled over to the door with her arms outstretched pleading to be helped. Had it not been for this “anonymous tip,” there is no telling what could have been done to her and the outcome could have been fatal. She was brutally beaten, bruised, forced to eat rat and dog droppings, and drink from the commode. Arrests were made in her case; all of the assailants are white with ages ranging from 20 to 49, including a mother and daughter pair and a mother and son pair. She is now safe with her family once again. But, her life will never be the same, for these turn of events have no doubt left her scarred forever.

Nailah Franklin, a 28-year-old Pharmaceutical Sales Representative and resident of Chicago, Illinois went missing on September 18, 2007 [www.kwqc.com/Global/story.asp?S=7142717]. She was scheduled to meet with her sales manager and did not respond to several forms of contact being made to her. She was driving her company car which was found several days later in Hammond, Indiana. On September 28, 2007, a body found in a Chicago suburb was identified as that of Nailah Franklin. Dental records and an autopsy confirmed this. The cause of her death has been dubbed inconclusive and her case is still being investigated. Her family is thankful that the authorities maintained their stance on searching for her and obtaining any new information that made itself available. She has been laid to rest and they can in essence, “move on.”

Last, but not least, an event that not only inflamed my curiosities as to why the recent trend of abductions were taking place, but infuriated me as well is the case of Karyn McConnell-Hancock [www.wtol.com/Global/story.asp?S=7469191]. Karyn McConnell-Hancock is a 35-year-old lawyer who “went missing” in early December of 2007 but fabricated her own kidnapping stating that two men and a woman abducted her not far from her Toledo, Ohio office. The story she had given authorities was that she was accosted by the men and woman at gunpoint, blind-folded, and carried off in a white van [www.abajournal.com/news/pregnant_lawyer_charged_over_fake_kidnap_story/]. After numerous statements made to the police about the events, McConnell-Hancock retracted her story stating that it was false. If McConnell-Hancock is convicted, she could be facing the maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. I fear that this case (or lack thereof) will be brought up each time there is an abduction of a woman of color. It will be something for authorities, attorneys, and media representatives to fall back on and use a tool to continue not to take our missing women cases seriously. I am saying to you in this article do not feed into these actions if they take place. Please continue to treat each case as a separate, serious matter and guard yourselves accordingly against what could be your personal demise.

There are ways in which we as women can protect and shield ourselves from harm. Self-defense classes are aimed at improving our awareness of our surroundings and environment as well as educating us on how to “fight off” an attacker. If you are serious about your protection, conduct research in your area, find a class suitable enough for you and your budget. If you are more comfortable with carrying a weapon or protection device on your person, again research the object best for you: mace, pepper spray, switch blade, or a small hand-gun. Once you have made the decision about your choice of weaponry, be certain you have all the appropriate documentation and guidelines to using that item. This is your life; take it seriously, because in all honesty, no one else will. WE are targets too.

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