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Violence Against Women: It Needs to Stop

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Violence against women is certainly not a new concept, however in recent years there has been a vast increase in domestic and sexual violence against women.

We’ve seen an increase of violent attacks against women, the most recent being 25-year-old Courtney Herron who was murdered by a random attacker in Melbourne – described by police as being a “horrendous bashing.”

Courtney Herron was the 20th woman to be killed in Australia this year. How many of these women have we heard about?

A framed photo of a young woman, bouquets of flowers and notes lie on the ground near logs.
Flowers and notes left at Royal Park after Courtney Herron’s death. Image Source: Kristian Silva/ABC News

New data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has revealed that rates of domestic and sexual violence in Australia have increased dramatically.

According to the research, one in six women experience abuse before the age of 15 and one woman is killed by her partner every nine days.

The report found that 2.2 million adults have been victims of physical and/or sexual violence by a partner since the age of 15. One in two women have been sexually harassed and one in six women have experienced stalking. Men have also seen a rise in these statistics, with one in nine men experiencing physical or sexual abuse since the age of 15, one in four men having been sexually harassed and one in 16 men having experienced stalking. These statistics are damning, particularly when looking at recent events across Australia.

A nationwide crisis is occurring with violence, particularly against women, as we see too many attacks which are often perpetrated by loved ones.

Co-founder of Counting Dead Women Australia, Jenna Price, stated “We know that every three hours a woman in Australia is hospitalised as a result of violence from a partner, a carer or a family member.”

The Counting Dead Women project which began in 2012 has researched and collated every “femicide”, and found that there have already been 20 deaths in 2019.

Louise York, spokeswoman for the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, states “Family, domestic and sexual violence can take many forms, including physical and sexual violence, emotional abuse or attempts to control another person’s behaviour.”

Violence is occurring too regularly against women, and the death toll is too high. What are we doing to prevent these deaths? There is little governmental assistance addressing the issue.

Ms Price from Counting Dead Women has urged the Morrison government to address violence against women as the death toll rises.

“We think a lot about trying to educate around consent and respect by the time people are adults. That’s far too late. We need to be addressing those questions when people are in preschool.”

Susanne Legena from Plan International Australia has also emphasised the need to address our behaviours and culture in regards to acceptable behaviours towards women.

“Enough is enough. It’s time for a fundamental change in our culture. For too long, the toxic attitudes that excuse or trivialise violence against women have gone unchallenged and have been allowed to thrive.”

Ms Legena believes that the root cause is the deeply entrenched belief that women are not equal to men. Police have also echoed these sentiments, stating that attitudes towards women need to change.

Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius stated the following in reference to the murder of Courtney Herron:

“What is it in our community that allows some men to think that it’s still OK to attack women or take from women what they want? … Violence against women is absolutely about men’s behaviour.”

There has been a spate of deaths around Australia, as women are suffering an increase of violent means coming to violent ends.

Along with the tragic death of Courtney Herron,  21-year-old Aiia Maasarwe was attacked and killed earlier this year while walking home near La Trobe University.

A person holds a sign that says "ENOUGH".
Hundreds of people gathered on Parliament steps to pay respect to Aiia Maasarwe after her death. Image Source: Gemma Hall/ABC News

Natalina Angok’s body was found dumped in Melbourne’s Chinatown, and was allegedly killed by her partner.

Preethi Reddy was found stuffed in a suitcase, suspected to have been killed by her ex-boyfriend.

How many more deaths do there need to be before we address the endemic of violence against women?

In lieu of new statistics around violence against women, we as a nation need to come to together to prevent these violent attacks and deaths. We need to support women who are currently struggling with domestic violence in their families and relationships, as well as addressing the tragic deaths that so many women face every year. We, as a nation, need to be helping these women and changing this culture of violence.

This is a call to Australia. There must be a point where enough is enough. How many more women need to die before we enact change?