Chances are, by now, you have read or heard quite a bit about the fatal knife attack that took place in Sydney’s CBD on Monday afternoon.
You have, likely, learned about Mert Ney the 20 year old man accused of causing terror on the streets wielding a knife, stabbing a woman at random, jumping on a car, who was ultimately restrained by three bystanders with milk crates and cafe chairs.
Police have revealed more details about the man who allegedly went on an erratic stabbing rampage in Sydney’s CBD yesterday afternoon. https://t.co/KAn8lsNFJo
— news.com.au (@newscomauHQ) August 14, 2019
You may have heard less about Michaela Dunn, the 24 year old woman Ney is alleged to have murdered with a kitchen knife before rampaging through the city streets. Dunn’s body was found in an apartment in the CBD an hour after Ney was arrested.
Dunn’s mother told Nine that her daughter was a “beautiful, loving woman who had studied at university and travelled widely”.
Dunn is a woman friends have described as a ‘delight’, ‘bright’ and ‘incredible in every way’. A woman, her friends say, who has been overshadowed by the heroic bystanders who saved the day.
“In a few articles I’ve read [her death has] been tacked on like a footnote almost … they don’t even necessarily use the word ‘woman’; they just use her job title,” a fellow sex worker, Rose Harper, told the ABC.
The heroism of the three men who stopped Ney before the police arrived isn’t in question. They each put their lives in danger to protect their fellow citizens. What other injuries and harm Ney may otherwise have inflicted is terrifying to consider. They deserve every ounce of praise and gratitude and every accolade they are handed.
— Francis Keogh (@HonestFrank) August 13, 2019
But their courage doesn’t change the fact a murderous attack on a 24 year old woman who ought to have had her whole life ahead of her took place on Monday.
An alliance of Australian Sex Workers and the Sex Workers Outreach Program issued a joint statement on Tuesday that publicly denounced the emphasis being placed on Michaela Dunn’s occupation in media reporting.
Sex worker group @scarletalliance wants 24yo Michaela Dunn remembered for who she was, not just her work. They’ve condemned sexual violence against women and say the community is in mourning @BreakfastNews @abcnews #SydneyStabbings #mertney pic.twitter.com/QInd8fiQVA
— Jason Om ✊🏼✊🏾✊🏻 (@jason_om) August 14, 2019
“Michaela Dunn was a woman, a community member, and a whole individual who will be missed and mourned.
We ask that the media remember that all victims involved in this incident were valued members of their families and communities, none of whom should be portrayed solely in sensationalist terms, due to their having possibly been killed during the commission of their work.
Emphasising the occupation of one victim and attributing the attack to sex work, whether implicitly or explicitly, perpetuates stereotypes of sex workers that blames them when they are victims of crime, and in this case detracts from the tragic fact that a young woman was murdered by a violent man.”
Hey journalists. Stop publishing nauseating implications that Michaela Dunn was killed because she was a sex worker – and it was therefore her own fault. Plenty of jobs are dangerous. She didn’t get killed because she was a sex worker. She got killed bc a violent man mudered her. pic.twitter.com/17vCaTDwnZ
— Ginger Gorman 🌈 (@GingerGorman) August 14, 2019
The events on Monday afternoon were horrific and while it’s clear the death toll could well have been much higher, the fact another woman has lost her life to senseless violence is tragedy enough.
Her name is Michaela Dunn.