Breaking the Silence: A Call to End Violence Against Women

The murder of Carol Stuart in Boston last October received widespread national attention.

The initial barrage of prominence was surpassed two and a half months later in January, when Charles Stuart threw himself off a Boston bridge -- thus confirming fresh police suspicions that Stuart himself had been his wife's killer rather than a black suspect as he had charged.

Boston's black community was outraged by it all, and rightly so. The incident netted many victims, including hundreds of young, black men who had been harassed by police as they stalked black neighborhoods looking for the alleged killer, and William Bennett, the police's prime suspect for several weeks. Black people everywhere recognized themselves as victims of a racism that is quick to believe the story of a well-off white man playing off fears of black urban violence.

But in all the furor over the many victims, what appears to have been lost is that there was at first only one. Charles Stuart may have turned the murder into a racial incident, but it was first of all an act of violence against a woman. Seventeen days later there was another victim, when the son Carol Stuart had been carrying in her womb at the time of the murder died.

No one knows for sure why Charles Stuart murdered Carol Stuart. Insurance money seems to be the most common guess -- friends say Charles Stuart wanted funds to open a restaurant. But one close friend says that Charles told him last September that he had recently noticed that Carol "had the upper hand" in their marriage, and he was upset that she had refused to get an abortion and worried that she might not go back to work after the birth, thereby lowering the couple's income. Others say that Charles, who had studied cooking at a vocational school, felt threatened by Carol's education and career as an attorney.

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