Australia has a violence-against-women emergency on its hands. Hundreds of women are dying every year. And 95% of all victims of violence in Australia report a male perpetrator.

But first, some names to those faces in the picture above:

  • Courtney Herron, 25, beaten to death by a man, 27, of no fixed address, in Parkville on May 25, 2019
  • Natalina Angok, 33, killed by her boyfriend, 32, and dumped in a Chinatown lane in Melbourne, 2019.
  • Preethi Reddy, 32, stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend who subsequently killed himself in a car crash, 2019.
  • Aiia Maasarwe, 21, beaten to death and dumped outside a shopping centre in Bundoora, by a man, 20, in 2019.
  • Laa Chol, 20, stabbed to death by a man, 17, at a party in a short-stay city apartment in 2018.
  • Qi Yu, 28, murdered by a housemate, 19, after she cut his lease short, in 2018.
  • Eurydice Dixon, 28, raped and murdered by a man, 19, at Melbourne’s Princes Park in 2018.
  • Renea Lau, 32, raped and murdered by a man in parkland in Melbourne’s King’s Domain, in 2016.
  • Masa Vukotic, 17, stabbed 49 times by a man, 30, in Doncaster, 2015.
  • Fiona Warzywoda, 35, stabbed by her husband, 40, outside her solicitor’s office at a Sunshine shopping centre in 2014.
  • Jill Meagher, 29, raped and murdered in Brunswick in 2012.
  • Allison Baden-Clay, 43, killed by her husband, 45, in Brisbane in 2012.

Second, some brutal facts:

  • On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner.
  • 1 in 3 Australian women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
  • 1 in 5 Australian women has experienced sexual violence.
  • 1 in 6 Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by current or former partner.
  • 1 in 4 Australian women has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner.
  • Australian women are nearly three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner.
  • Australian women are almost four times more likely than men to be hospitalised after being assaulted by their spouse or partner.
  • Women are more than twice as likely as men to have experienced fear or anxiety due to violence from a former partner.
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of mothers who had children in their care when they experienced violence from their previous partner said their children had seen or heard the violence.
  • Almost one in 10 women (9.4%) have experienced violence by a stranger since the age of 15.
  • Young women (18 – 24 years) experience significantly higher rates of physical and sexual violence than women in older age groups.
  • There is growing evidence that women with disabilities are more likely to experience violence.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women report experiencing violence in the previous 12 months at 3.1 times the rate of non-Indigenous women.
  • In 2014–15, Indigenous women were 32 times as likely to be hospitalised due to family violence as non-Indigenous women. See more here.

And yet, remarkably, Australians are more worried about being attacked by a terrorist than about curbing male violence against women.

A recent ANU poll revealed that almost half of all Australians (45%) are concerned that they or one of their family members could become the victim of a future terrorist attack, while more than half (56%) think the government could do much more to prevent such an attack. Another poll found almost half of us (49%) even support a Trump-like ban on all Muslim immigration.

Statistically, it’s not Muslims we need to worry about. It’s Australian men. Look at the list above. I admit it’s an arbitrary list of recent, high-profile murders, but note the ages of the perpetrators: a thirty-something-year-old dentist, a 27-year-old homeless man,  a 45-year-old suburban real estate agent, a 19-year-old Chinese student. Men of all ages and all stations of life are committing acts of violence against women.

Something drastically needs to be done to shift the culture in this country.

And third, some actions for men:

  • Learn what victim-blaming is and how to recognise it. Stop with questions like ‘What was she wearing?’ or ‘Why was she walking there at that time?’ When we blame women for their actions, we fail to hold men to account for theirs.
  • Learn what patriarchy is and practise explaining it to someone else.
  • Learn about gender, power and sexual consent.
  • Don’t laugh at sexist jokes or comments and speak up against them if you can.
  • Explore why we have a gender pay gap and talk with others about it at work.
  • Encourage the men in your life to talk to each other about their feelings and emotions. Quit telling boys to ‘man up’ and suppress their feelings, and stop encouraging them to sort out their differences with the use of violence. Talk to another man about the pressures of being a ‘real man’ and how it impacts on relationships with others
  • Recognise how violence against women is also a men’s issue and discuss this with men in your life. Watch this TED talk on why violence against women is a men’s issue.
  • Stop talking about what women look like, and speak instead about who she is and what she has achieved.
  • Don’t fund sexism: don’t buy media or products that portray women in a degrading or violent manner.
  • Call it out when a woman is interrupted or spoken over.
  • Advocate against violence and gender inequality by spreading awareness on your social media and beyond.

The more Australian men speak out against violence and stand up for gender equality, the more that message becomes the norm and maybe, just maybe, the culture that promotes violence against women will disintegrate. But it won’t be easy. Remember the backlash to Gillette’s ‘The Best Men Can Be’ advertisement?

Stay true. Women’s lives are at stake.

 

 

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