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Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Friday, July 30, 1999


Women are tired of
cowering from fiends

IT'S agony to follow the proceedings in Hawaii's trial of the year: the Dana Ireland homicide on the Big Island.

Her kidnapping, rape and murder on Christmas Eve 1991 was not only an especially brutal crime but a woman's nightmare come true.

Granted, men can sympathize with the victim, her family and friends. Yes, men can be kidnapped, raped and murdered, too.

Only women, however, can truly empathize with this notorious and very public atrocity, because females dread this happening to them and alter their daily lives accordingly.

With all due respect, guys can't relate. They don't understand the self-preservationist mindset, the constant fretting about safety and avoiding simple pleasures because something "bad" might happen.

Seemingly innocuous actions -- walking at night through a mostly abandoned parking lot, going solo to a secluded beach or campsite or even hanging out at home alone -- might be a bit spooky for males. For females, they can be frightening, even debilitating experiences.

As a result, women often opt to bolt the doors and stay inside. They can't do whatever they want, whenever they like. They don't put themselves in situations where, if the worst does happen, they can be blamed for "asking for it."

Women can become virtual prisoners, even in the Aloha State, because they don't want what befell Dana Ireland to ever repeat itself.

On Dec. 24, 1991, the 23-year-old Virginia transplant was riding her bicycle near the surfing area called "shacks" in the middle of the afternoon. The sweet-natured athlete loved the outdoors.

Hours later she was found battered, bloody and incoherent in secluded Waawaa. She died at Hilo Medical Center from multiple traumatic injuries.

What occurred after she left her boyfriend's house to invite him to dinner and before her limp body was discovered, only the assailant or assailants know. Three men have been charged and one, Frank Pauline Jr., is now on trial.

DANA is dead but her fate -- and those of other women who have been kidnapped, raped and murdered -- evokes enormous fear for girls and women. Yet cowering through every waking moment is no way to exist.

Aren't women sick of this constant state of trepidation? Females can't keep hiding forever. This is their community, too!

How about shifting the focus of this problem back to where it rightly belongs -- on the physically stronger, more ferocious and aggressive perpetrators lurking among us?

The "good guys" among boys and men can help, by not letting their friends or family physically and mentally abuse their womenfolk, or by not making crude jokes and degrading references about females in general. Besides, it ain't funny.

Granted, most people aren't capable of the cruelty that was inflicted on Dana. But when "lesser" acts of humiliating girls and women are tolerated or even encouraged, they silently condone the hideous case now being adjudicated in Judge Riki May Amano's courtroom.

It's obvious that whoever is responsible for the death of Dana Ireland didn't see her as a human being when they raped and killed her.

A lot of things have to change in this town to make sure nobody else ends up the same way. In agony.






Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at
dchang@starbulletin.com, or by fax at 523-7863.




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