When Men Murder Women in Okla: 97 Percent Knew Victim, 73 Percent Used Guns

A report issued this week showed Oklahoma had one of the nation's highest rates of women killed by men, another bad mark for the state, which was recently ranked by one group as one of the worst states for women in the country.

The new report, conducted by the Violence Policy Center, showed that in 2011, Oklahoma ranked third in the nation behind South Carolina and Alaska in the per capita rate of women killed by men. Oklahoma's per capita rate was 1.99 in that year, with a total of 38 women killed.

According to the report, 97 percent of the women knew their killer, 61 percent were wives and, significantly, 73 percent were killed with guns. The report, titled "When Men Murder Women," concludes:

The picture that emerges from "When Men Murder Women" is that women face the greatest threat from someone they know, most often a spouse or intimate acquaintance, who is armed with a gun. For women in America, guns are not used to save lives, but to take them.

Of course, there is more to this issue than access to guns, though it's difficult not to see it as a major contributing factor in these and other crimes. But one has to wonder if abused women here even know they do have access to help. The YWCA, for example, has a shelter for abused women in this area and just announced this week it had raised enough money to build a new one. (Here's the YWCA information for help for those women experiencing domestic violence.) Perhaps, more community advertising and outreach to schools could help. Another contributing factor might be the state's problems with medical access, which might prevent the discovery of signs of abuse. The state's low college graduation rate — though abuse can happen in any socioeconomic group — might contribute as well. One could also argue that recent attacks on reproductive rights by the state legislature and other groups create a collective mindset that diminishes the rights and safety of women.

The bottom line is that abused women need help in Oklahoma.

Just a few weeks ago, the Center for American Progress ranked Oklahoma the 48th worst state in the nation for women based on a number of economic, leadership and health issues. It was ranked dead last in health issues, which is no surprise.

As I've written before, all these negative reports about how the state ranks against other states in a variety of social and health issues can leave any compassionate Oklahoman feeling numb. It's also true that some of these reports carry with them certain political agendas.

But, collectively, the reports add up. The state has major social and health problems that are not getting appropriately addressed by its leaders. Unfortunately, too many Oklahoma women experience the brunt of these problems. In other places, it might be viewed as a crisis.

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