One woman dies every week at the hands of a current or former partner. It’s a sentence – a dreadful statistic – that is likely familiar with any Australian who regularly watches, listens to or reads the news.
One woman dying every week is shocking, a damning indictment on our society, but far more shocking is when the typical horror pales compared to the brutal, actual, reality.
Between the 3rd and 12th of October eight women were killed violently. Eight women in ten days. Six of them were slain in just seven days.
It means at least 55 Australian women have been murdered in 2018, an awful toll we know because of the work of the Counting Dead Women Australia researchers of Destroy the Joint. At least 12 children have been murdered this year too.
From Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, this terror has reigned.
Erana Nahu was 43 when she died of stab wounds.
Jacqueline Francis was 50 and was unable to be revived after being stabbed.
An unnamed 29 year old woman was found deceased at her home in Palmerston.
Dannyll Goodsell was discovered after firefighters and police were called to a fire at her home in Ballarat.
Kristie Powell, 39, suffered various injuries and was found by police in her NSW home, with her five-month old baby daughter unharmed.
Gayle Potter, a 46 year old mother of three, was run over and killed at a private property in Victoria.
The body of Nicole Cartwright, 32, was found in Sydney. An unnamed 22 year old woman was found dead in Queensland.
In seven of these eight deaths the individual charged for the crime was known to the victim. In most of these cases it was the woman’s home where deadly danger struck.
This is not the only horror week of 2018. There have been too many. And yet what there hasn’t been is the sense of urgency and emergency that this demands.
“For the past ten days, we woke up nearly every morning, to a new and horrific incident of a woman dying at the hands of a man that is known to her,” White Ribbon Australia’s CEO, Tracy McLeod Howe says. “If this were any other incident involving mass deaths, immediate action would be taken to ensure no more lives were stolen. If this was terrorism, our troops would gather into action, if this was a health outbreak, our health system would be on high alert; we can no longer sit back and watch it happen.”
McLeod Howe says this is an epidemic and there are signs it’s getting worse.
“Our police force responds to approximately 5000 domestic violence matters every week, that’s a call every two minutes. Our frontline crisis services are at breaking point and are underfunded. We have the data, we know how to solve this problem, and at this point everyone needs to stand up and hold disrespect, abuse and violence against women and children in all its forms to account, without exception.”
Last week domestic violence advocate and journalist Sherele Moody noted that two shark attacks and strawberry-tampering attracted more attention and funding and action from our governments than a spate of violent deaths had.
She asks if this “is not a national catastrophe, what the bloody hell is?”
While leadership and funding is absolutely necessary, Moody and McLeod Howe agree that the solution to this deadly horror show starts with each and every one of us.
“The war on women will continue unabated unless every single person in this country takes a stance against violence,” Moody wrote. “Until then, we will continue mourning grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, nieces, colleagues and friends.”
“As a community we must join together to end men’s violence against women and children in our society. Our voices are so much louder when we stand together,” McLeod Howe says. Ahead of White Ribbon Day on 23rd November, she is asking all Australians to get involved with eradicating this scourge by putting respect on the agenda.
“I urge individuals, workplaces, schools and the broader community to host an event, march or simply have a conversation with their mate about respect because we know violence thrives in disrespect. If we do nothing, nothing will change.”
And if nothing changes, this horror show will continue. Where “at best” only a single woman will be killed each week. At worst, who knows? It’s hard to imagine much worse than six women being killed in just seven days.
If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 for advice or support. This free service providing confidential advice is open 24/7.
In an emergency, call the police on 000. All incidents of violence should be reported to the police.
For urgent support call Lifeline 13 11 14
If you are in danger, please call the Police – 000
If you are a man concerned about your own behaviour call the Men’s Referral Service’s number 1300 766 491