Eurydice Dixon. 22 years old. Aspiring comedian, smart, wonderful young woman.
She did all the things she was supposedly meant to do. She texted her friend and told him she was almost home.
It’s a system set up by the sisterhood to make sure we’re all safe.
It’s similar to not leaving each other’s drinks unguarded when we go to the bathroom at a bar, for fear of date rape drugs being dropped into our glasses by faceless men.
The famous Atwood quote ‘Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them’ has echoed across commentary online and in print today, in the wake of Eurydice’s death.
As a woman, I am tired.
My sisters are tired.
We are tired of seeing another one of us die at the hands of a partner each week.
We are tired of hearing men tell us the problem isn’t gendered.
We are tired of making sure our phones are charged all the time in case something happens to us.
We are tired of clenching our keys in our hands as we walk to our carsin case someone attacks us.
We are tired of turning all the lights on in the house when no one is home and checking in the cupboards and under the bed to see if someone might be there ready to attack us.
As a feminist, I am angry.
My sisters are angry.
We are angry as we, again, march in the streets for justice – wondering if perpetrators are actually listening to us or not. We are sick of being told to stay in well-lit places, with lots of people to avoid being sexually assaulted. Or raped. Or murdered.
As a Minister, I am certain.
I am certain that we can beat this culture of sexism.
In Victoria, we have seen an increase in reporting of sexual harassment and abuse.
According to Victoria police, this is because people who report are feeling more empowered to speak up against perpetrator abuse.
While we wish no one was in this situation – people, women, are showing that freedom from sexual harassment and violence is a right not a privilege.
In 2015, Victoria had a Royal Commission into Family Violence. The Commission made 227 recommendations to help stop violence against women, in their homes, on the street – even on public transport.
This was the biggest social reform in Victoria’s history. This government agreed to each of those recommendations and they are being implemented.
We know social reform takes time. We have more police on the streets than ever before. I know in this moment that it wasn’t enough for Eurydice Dixon. It wasn’t enough for Jill Meagher. It’s not enough for the countless other women whose attacks don’t make the media.
We know that changing attitudes takes time.
With the greatest urgency, I ask each of you to keep having conversations with each other about how we can make women feel safe. Whether it is on the street, at the kitchen table or on public transport – having a conversation can make a difference.
Have these conversations with your sons, your daughters, your aunts and uncles. Tell them that violence is not okay and men do not have a right to disrespect women. Or objectify them. Or rape them. Or kill them.
And to bystanders who think about calling out sexism and don’t – your thoughts and prayers at this time are meaningless. Do something next time.
Respect women. Call it out.