On Monday morning, a cyclist in Copenhagen came across a harrowing discovery — in the water at the edge of Amager Island, he found a woman’s torso without a head, arms or legs. After a postmortem examination on Wednesday, the remains were confirmed to be that of journalism Kim Wall.
Wall, a Swedish journalism, went missing a week ago, on Aug. 10. She was on assignment for a story about Peter Madsen, an inventor who had built his own submarine. For a story, Wall and Madsen had gone into the submarine together. Wall never returned.
Madsen originally claimed that he had dropped Wall off safely in Copenhagen, though his story changed in court as he explained that Wall had died in an accident on board and he had buried her at sea.
Madsen has since been charged with manslaughter, but even justice in the court doesn’t make Wall’s story any less troubling. After all, it sheds a light on a topic we don’t often shed light on: the danger of being a female journalist. Wall had traveled all corners of the globe — the Marshall Islands, Haiti, Cuba, Sri Lanka, Kenya, China, even North Korea — but when she was murdered, she was in her native Scandinavia, in a part of the world lauded for gender parity, just doing her job.
Perhaps that’s the scariest part — that women are made to feel safe in certain situations and in areas in the world that are, in reality, not much safer for them than anywhere else. Wall was murdered in a situation that should have been safe. After all, she’d been in Copenhagen, a city she had no doubt been to many times before. She’d simply been reporting on an inventor, not war, not violent protests, not anything controversial at all. And yet, in the end, she still wasn’t safe.
Wall’s friend, Sruthi Gottipati, put it best in her piece for the Guardian: “[T]he world has a way of knocking down women who are sharp, funny and bold. It has a habit of strangling the voices who dare to speak up, of humiliating the women who step outside their comfort zones, of crushing the ones who break the rules.”