Deaths from domestic violence deserve public focus
Five women were killed this month in incidents described by authorities as domestic violence.
SEVERAL violent deaths attributed to domestic violence
have brought public attention to a persistent problem that is difficult to conquer. The deaths are a reminder that government agencies and private organizations should not give up urging people to report household abuse at early stages before it can escalate to tragedy.
Five women have been killed in Hawaii this month in what authorities describe as episodes of domestic violence. That total approximates the number of domestic-violence-related deaths in the state for the entire first half of this year. The frenzied nature of the deaths, as described by police, was as staggering as the numbers involved:
» In early July, Joel Norva shot and killed his ex-wife, Yolanda Crawford, in Waipahu and wounded her daughter with a shot to the head before turning the gun on himself. Police classify the incident as a murder and suicide.
» Vernon Costa of Puna is accused of chasing a car carrying his ex-girlfriend, Janelle Nardin, and two other women at speeds up to 100 mph on a Big Island highway before ramming it. Two women were killed and Nardin was injured. He is charged with murder.
» A pregnant Delphine Haina of Nanakuli died last weekend after she was ejected or jumped from a moving car driven by her boyfriend near Punaluu.
» Ronante Aquino of Waipahu was charged with murder following the vicious stabbing death of girlfriend Zenaida Dumaislan in her Pearl City apartment last Saturday.
It would be mistaken to derive any single explanation from the deaths, as they were unrelated to each other. Fortunately, neither should the succession of such deaths in a short time indicate a trend. However, authorities and private groups rightly came to the forefront to urge community response.
U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo pointed to a federal indictment Wednesday against two men accused of possessing firearms after being convicted of domestic violence- related crimes. Federal law forbids people convicted of domestic abuse from having firearms.
Although only one of the July incidents involved firearms, Kubo urged people to notify police about domestic violence.
"The chance for violence increases where guns or drugs are involved," he said.
A state attorney general's report several years ago found that 30 percent of all homicides in Hawaii during a 10-year period were a result of domestic violence -- twice the national rate. A Harris Poll last month found that 33 million people, or 15 percent of American adults, claim to have been victims of domestic violence.
The Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women and the League of Women Voters are collaborating on a long-term project monitoring all domestic-violence cases in the state court system, according to the commission's Web site.