COMMENTARY | The picture of Nicola Furlong shows a smiling blonde with a birthday cake. She could have been anyone's daughter, anyone's sister, anyone's friend. According to ABC News, in late May, that smiling girl -- an Irish exchange student in Japan -- spent the evening with friends, attending a Nicki Minaj concert in the Shinjuku area. Later, she was found murdered in her hotel room.
The article states Richard Hinds, a 19-year-old American Christian musician who was traveling abroad as a backup dancer for a Japanese R&B artist, has been arrested in connection with Furlong's murder. He admits to strangling her but says that he didn't intend to kill her. Japanese authorities are now determining whether or not to charge him with murder. And the point of the article is that Japan has a 99 percent conviction rate. It is unlikely, if he's charged with murder, that Hinds will be released from jail. At least not anytime soon.
But while that may be the point of the article, the point of the sad story is that it's a dangerous world for young women. It's a world where a young woman should be able to enjoy adventures abroad. She should be able to go out with friends and have fun at a concert without worry of who may be intent on hurting her. She should be able to wake up the next morning and laugh about the night's events. She should be able to pose next year for a birthday photo to be posted on Facebook, with another candle on the cake. That smile on her face.
Natalee Holloway. Nicola Furlong. The stories are tragic reminders that not everything is safe and not everyone is your friend. And the sharp contrast in how justice is handled in Aruba and how it is handled in Japan don't take away the facts. She was someone's daughter. Someone's friend. And she should have had decades more to make memories.
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