Australia’s Silence on Violence against Women

*TRIGGER WARNING*: violence against women

Last week, Australian grandmother, Jeanette Moss, was murdered in her home & the headlines emphasised police suspicion that the killer might have been known to Ms Moss . The homicide case is still underway.

Whatever the outcome is, it is deeply concerning that the headlines failed to emphasise that the suspected circumstances of her death are not uncommon or unusual. In Australia, women are more frequently killed or sexually assaulted by someone they know. In fact, at least one Australian woman is killed every week by a former or current partnerWhen I first heard this stat, I thought I’d misheard it. I hadn’t. Worse still, this statistic is likely understated: in 2013, this report was released noting that the majority of violence against women incidences go unreported in Australia. Here is the recent ad campaign White Ribbon, an advocacy group committed to eradicating violence against women, has released in attempt to shed light on the current situation. (For readers who live outside of Australia, & who are perhaps unfamiliar with the aesthetic/narrative techniques used here, the ad parodies Australian tourism campaigns):

At the moment, our government is making a concerted effort to stop so-called king-hit (one punch) violence. It comes after a devastating New Years Eve incident in Sydney where an eighteen year old male was killed by a king-hit punch in King’s Cross. A very similar incident occurred in 2012.  These occurrences most certainly warrant investigation and a strategic shift in thinking about violence and justice responses to it . For Tony Abbott,  this involves ‘throwing the book’  harder and faster at perpetrators of these one-punch killings, or what the NSW state government has since pushed to rename ‘coward punches‘. Whether or not this strategy is the right one is not something I wish to discuss in this instance, though I am comforted to know that at least some forms of Australian violence are under scrutiny.

Nonetheless, there remains an obvious and unnerving silence when it comes to violence against women. To repeat it: at least one Australian woman is killed every week by a former or current partner . Where is the outrage from our PM about this? In 2012 he announced his support for White Ribbon, but I’ve not heard him on the radio, in the papers, or on the television demanding any real commitment to the issue. In fact, I haven’t heard a damn thing from the guy about it ever, and this is Australia’s Minister for Women, lest my ovaries forget.

At what point will the government take seriously the outrageously unsafe environments women contend with on a daily basis–on the street and in nightclubs, yes–but also in their schools, their places of work, their own homes?

Further info and stats: http://www.whiteribbon.org.au/uploads/media/updated_factsheets_Nov_13/Factsheet_5_Facts_and_figures.pdf