125 Years since Jack the Ripper

Today’s post will be rather gruesome and dark, so perhaps you’d like to read another post. This 2013 year marks the 125th ‘anniversary’ of the Whitechapel murders. Between September to October 1888, Jack the Ripper – still unidentified, unfortunately – killed and mutilated at least 5 women from the impoverished Whitechapel district. Most of these women were prostitutes.

Cartoon criticising the police for their inabi...

Cartoon criticising the police for their inability to find the Whitechapel murderer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every year, there are Jack the Ripper walks around Whitechapel to inform tourists and locals on what took place in 1888. In 2008, I took a course at the Bader International Study Centre (Herstmonceux Castle) on British Identity, and one of the topics was on Jack the Ripper. As part of the course, we joined a walk (during the day, thankfully!) and learned about the history and current situation of the area, its residents, and finally, the significance of each location. Our guide even suggested he knew who the Ripper could be. Unfortunately, I cannot remember whom he had believed the Ripper to be but personally, my guess is that this person had to be a surgeon of some sort. In other words, he could not have just been some poor and lunatic man who was simply satanic. The murder had to know what he was doing.

For those of you who can’t make it to London for the walks, there is a new TV series called Ripper Street, starring Matthew Macfadyen, coming out in USA and Canada on Saturday, 19 January (already aired on BBC on 30 Dec 2012). I will have to warn you, it’s not a happy idyllic period drama. Be prepared for horrific scenes that might scar you for life. This series starts in 1889, after the Jack the Ripper murders.

There is also another BBC TV series called Whitechapel, a modern-day version of the Jack the Ripper murders, in which a team of detectives track down a copycat serial killer who is trying to replicate the Whitechapel murders. The series has been renewed for a 4th season but BBC America is currently showing S2.

While we are not celebrating the deaths of these women, we are remembering that these horrific events are still happening today. Women, and even young girls, have vanished and been found murdered – and some even mutilated – in remote places. Many of them had also been raped.

Cartoon, with poem: Caption & poem lyrics: :: ...

Cartoon, with poem: Caption & poem lyrics: :: THE NEMESIS OF NEGLECT. :: “There floats a phantom on the slum’s foul air, :: Shaping, to eyes which have the gift of seeing, :: Into the Spectre of that loathly lair. :: Face it–for vain is fleeing! :: Red-handed, ruthless, furtive, unerect, :: ‘Tis murderous Crime–the Nemesis of Neglect! ” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Strangely and tragically, Vancouver has [had?] its own Whitechapel murders. Its ‘Jack the Ripper’ was Robert Pickton – who was caught and is currently serving his sentence – as well as a few others, some still unidentified. The victims were mostly Natives and mostly from the Downtown Eastside, the most impoverished part of Vancouver. Today, people are still demanding answers (see Missing Women Inquiry) from the police who could have stopped the serial killer early on. Neglect, indifference, discrimination, prejudice… We are all, in a sense, guilty. History had repeated itself… and history will repeat itself if changes are not made.

Let us learn from history and make sure these things do not take place again. May these women and girls rest in peace.