I am livid. Inexplicitly pissed off. Heartbroken.
I am struggling not to lose faith, having trouble accepting that this is what our country has become.
Today, a man was charged with murder. He stole the future from a 26 year old woman who was to be married this weekend. Her name was Stephanie and she was a teacher, a soon-to-be wife, a daughter, a friend.
She is the girl next to you at the café. She is the lady in line for groceries. She is your child’s teacher.
Stephanie didn’t deserve to be treated in such a horrendous way. Her life was taken by a man. He made a decision without regard to her own wishes. A choice to singlehandedly ruin a family and to break the heart of a finance who this weekend will be crying tears of pain and sorrow, rather than celebrating in the loving embrace of his new wife.
This murderous man worked with Stephanie. They were colleagues. They probably brushed past each other in the corridor, maybe even made small-chat. He knew her. She knew him.
Stephanie and her mother, and partner
This weekend, a country town in New South Wales will be mourning a daughter. Someone will have to fold away her wedding dress. To cancel the florist. To file away her wedding vows. Instead of joining two families in love, a man has catapulted two families into grief.
On 17 March another woman’s life was stolen. 17 year old high school student Masa Vukotic, was violently attacked and stabbed to death while going for a run. This is not acceptable. This girl was simply existing in the world, living her OWN life and a man decided he had the power to end her existence in the most horrific of ways. It was unexpected. Unnecessary. Unfounded. A pure unadulterated abuse of power.
Men in Australia are taking the lives of women around them and something needs to be done. We need to make a stand and say that this is not okay.
This cycle of men killing women has to end. Every single week one Australian woman is killed by a current or former partner and one in three women have experienced some degree of violence.
1 in 3.
Just let that sink in.
You, and your two best friends are having coffee, statistically one of you has or will experience violence. In New South Wales alone in 2014 there were more than 27,000 domestic violence assaults reported to police (and that’s just the women who were brave enough, or injured enough to report it. Think about how many must go unreported).
Why is Australia not taking this seriously? What will become of us. My daughters are likely to grow up in a world where they are no longer safe to go for a run, walk home or tragically as with Stephanie, they aren’t even safe in their own workplace. They won’t be able to have the escape of their own home, because you know, one in three women experience violence in the home as well.
One of Australia’s largest newspapers, the Courier Mail showed utter disrespect when reporting Stephanie’s story today. Their front page ran the header ‘Bride and Seek’. This sort of media coverage does nothing but diminish the feelings of a family, the actions of a man and the last moments of a daughter. A front cover header of a national newspaper like this does not show how serious Australians need to be in stopping this ongoing epidemic of violence against women.
Media reporting like this cannot be tolerated
Men are not the rulers of women. We no longer live in a patriarchal society whereby women must obey men. We are equals. Women should be safe. Men should not be allowed to steal the futures from our nation’s girls.
In 2012 Thomas Kelly was fatally king-hit at Kings Cross in Sydney. The country was outraged. A young man was dead as a result of being punched. His brave family launched a campaign pushing for accountability and tougher sentencing. In 2013 another young man, Daniel Christie was killed again by a punch. Australia reacted. Within weeks new legislation was passed and “A Coward’s Punch Can Kill” campaign launched. Changes were made.
An issue was addressed. This kind of violence would no longer be tolerated. Seven men had been killed since 2000 and this was the reaction. Seven women had been killed by their partners in the first five weeks of 2015 alone.
Where the hell is the outrage on those statistics?
So what can you do?
You need to take a stand and reject the sexist attitudes and behaviour that creates a culture whereby violence against women is tolerated. You need to not support media reporting like the Courier mail’s front page today.
You need to treat all women as equals.
You need to speak up if you believe violence against women is occurring.
You need to not allow our media and policy makers to sweep yet another incident of violence against women under the carpet.
You need to make a world where little girls are protected. Young women are respected and females are not victimized.
Living in fear is not an option. Change must happen.
I stand for change. We need to protect Australia’s girls now.
EDITORS NOTE: Thanks to everyone for the comments and messages, I just want to take this opportunity to reiterate that violence against anyone is horrendous. To men. To women. To children. The idea behind this article was simply to bring awareness of just how prevalent this surge in violence against women has become especially in the first few months in 2015. Every single person deserves to be safe and protected against violence. Men do. Women do. Children do. It was definitely not my intention to belittle or diminish the impact of violence against all other members of society.