'This is about men's behaviour': Police on Courtney Herron's death

‘This is about men’s behaviour’: Assistant Commissioner on Courtney Herron’s death

Courtney Herron
Again. On Saturday morning the body of a young woman, Courtney Herron, was found in a Melbourne park. A 27 year old man has been charged with her murder.

Courtney Herron is the fourth female to have been killed in open space in Melbourne in less than a year. Like Aiia Maasarwe, Eurydice Dixon and Natalina Angok, Courtney Herron has arisen to national prominence for the worst of all reasons: falling victim to murderous violence.

Herron was reportedly homeless so her death does raise some critical questions about housing.

There is absolutely nothing, obviously, positive about a person losing their life, particularly not when it’s brutal.

But it is worth noting the language used by the Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius at a press conference on Saturday when discussing the spate of public attacks in Melbourne.

“Every time I hear about a woman being attacked – for me as a man – it gives me some pause for reflection about what it is in our community that makes men think it’s OK to attack women, or take what they want from women,” he said. “Women, and men, are absolutely entitled [to] and should feel safe to go about their normal day-to-day activities.”

He also said this. “The key point is [that] this is about men’s behaviour, it’s not about women’s behaviour.”

Considering that even very recently in the aftermath of these kinds of public attacks the preferred line of advice, often from police themselves, has been focused on women needing to ‘be careful’ it’s an important and welcome shift.

The tendency towards victim-blaming, especially in scenarios where women have been assaulted or killed outside, is compelling. It seems like a reflex, almost a haven, that some can’t help but reach for. It is certainly easier, albeit naive and inaccurate, to believe that if women just made the right choices to keep themselves safe nothing untoward would ever happen to them.

But we know, sadly, that is nonsense. Statistically speaking home is actually the most dangerous place for women. Statistically the most dangerous men to women are not strangers lurking in the dark but those who they have either been in a relationship with, or, still are.

It’s not always the case and tragically men lurking in the dark (or even daylight) are  proving deadly. But whether the perpetrator is a person a woman knows or a total stranger, the issue at hand, as the assistant commissioner pointed out, is men’s behaviour.

Why is that some some men feel entitled to take what they like from women? What leads them to think that being violent is ok?

Alarmingly the most recent research from Anrows and VicHealth shows that the attitudes of young people towards women and violence are highly problematic.

To say it’s time for an intervention is an understatement.

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