Reclaim the night


Liselotte, Allison, Jill and Natalie.

Liselotte was an 85-year-old grandmother who was peacefully living out her retirement and was allegedly murdered on Brisbane’s idyllic Macleay Island. A man was last week charged with her murder.

Allison was a wife and mother of three young girls from Brisbane’s affluent western suburbs whose badly decomposed body was found some 10 days after she was reported missing from her family home. Her husband was this week committed to stand trial for her murder.

Jill was a beautiful Irish ABC worker from Melbourne who was allegedly raped and murdered while walking the short distance home after Friday night drinks with friends. Last week a man she did not know was committed to stand trial for her murder.

Natalie was a 26-year-old woman from Brisbane’s south-side. She had the world at her feet, was in a new relationship, and dreamed of travelling overseas. Last week, she was allegedly shot and killed by her boyfriend. He has since been charged with one count of murder.

A grandmother. A mother. A wife. A daughter.

These four women’s faces have filled our TV screens and reporters have filled column centimetres of newsprint over the past two weeks as two potential culprits were charged with two alleged murders, and two judges ruled that there was enough evidence for trials to be held into two more deaths of women in this country.

Four women allegedly killed by four men.

An Australian Parliamentary Report in 2011, called Domestic violence in Australia – an overview of the issues, found that the most likely scenario for the homicide of an Australian woman is at home at the hands of an intimate partner.

The report said, according to the National Homicide Monitoring Program, of the 260 homicide incidents in 2007 to 08, the majority (52 per cent) were classified domestic homicides involving one or more victims who shared a family or domestic relationship with the offender. Thirty-one per cent were intimate partner homicides.

Fifty-five per cent of female homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner compared with 11 per cent of male homicide victims. Indigenous people were over-represented in intimate partner homicides; one in five (20 per cent) victims was indigenous, as were nearly one in four offenders (24 per cent).

Most Australian homicides in 2007 to 08 occurred in a residential location (70 per cent) -most often the victim’s home (53 per cent) and a large proportion of domestic homicides occurred at residential locations (84 per cent).

Many of us don’t walk the streets at night because we are worried about our safety and scared of the relatively remote possibility that a stranger may attack us. But while opportunistic assaults do occur, and Jill Meagher was a victim of such an alleged attack, they are rare. It is in our homes that we, as women, are often most at threat by the very people who we know and we love.

And while protests take place in India over the brutal rape and murder of a young woman on a bus, here in Australia it appears to me that the cycle of domestic violence continues almost unabated. We slavishly follow all the details of each and every case and today journalists even tweet from inside court-rooms to ensure we don’t miss out on any minutiae but there have been no public protests about these deaths in Brisbane. Just sadness and a morbid curiosity.

I have never been a victim of domestic violence but in my life I have witnessed it first-hand. Like so many of us who grew up in the 70s or earlier. But this year, in late October, for the first time I will march to reclaim the night and to protest against violence against women in all of its insidious forms. And I will march in memory of Liselotte, Allison, Jill and Natalie. Four beautiful women who can no longer speak for themselves.

I hope you will join me.

© Melissad10 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

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