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STAFF EDITORIAL: Violence against women no longer shocking

Tourists staying in Los Angeles’ Hotel Cecil experienced a disgusting shock when they discovered that the murky smelly water they had been drinking and bathing in was tainted by the rotting corpse of Elisa Lam.

News outlets have been reporting the tourists’ and patrons’ shock of having drunk the corpse-fouled water, but the human aspect appears to have gone unnoticed: the water was tainted by yet another violent act against a woman.

At The Campanil we wondered if this oversight was reflective of a larger issue. Why are violent acts against women going unnoticed in the media?

The cleanliness of the water being used by hotel patrons is important, but none of the reports showed that the water contained dangerous levels of bacteria. So, one would like to believe that this would dispel people’s worries over the use of the water, but the thought of water possibly contaminated by a decomposing body entering your system clouds the judgment and priorities of officials and the general public.

Security video of Lam was released on the night of the murder. In the disturbing footage she appeared to be acting strangely. The Campanil wonders what was the hotel’s security doing at the time. Why did no one come to her aid?

The lack of shock by another violent act against a woman is not sufficient to conclude that law enforcement believes the tainted water is more important than the dead body.

Some believe that Lam’s sex is not a key issue in the lack of interest in the cause of her death. But rather, the discussion of Lam’s sex is knee-jerk bait and readers could be missing some elements of the story.

The Campanil is aware that this is a breaking story, and so there may not be enough information on the investigation. The investigation is ongoing. What is immediately apparent is that many people ingested the putrid runoff of a dead body and that is a definite health concern. There are multiple elements to this story, and while incomplete or negligible attention is often paid to violence against women, we think in this case they went with what they had, which was legitimately newsworthy and attention-grabbing accounts of a creepy hotel and black water coming out of the faucet. The Campanil is aware that not every article can focus on every element.

The tainted water is an important issue, but it should not take precedence over the murder of a woman.