The murder of a young woman in Melbourne this week has been making headlines, but sadly it’s the response to the incident by police that has many women seeing red.
Comedian Eurydice Dixon, 22, was found dead on a soccer field in an inner suburb of Melbourne this week.
She was reportedly on her way home from the Highlander Bar after performing a show and was allegedly attacked between 11pm on Tuesday and 3am on Wednesday.
A 19-year-old man has been charged with murder and rape, after reportedly handing himself in to police.
The horrific incident has shaken the community to the core, and is just another example of the reason why, as a woman in my late 20s, I often find myself looking over my shoulder at night.
The response given by the Victorian Police has done little to make me feel more at ease, and as many have pointed out on social media, it’s actually highlighted a huge double standard.
In a series of official statements this week, Local Superintendent David Clayton, of the Victorian Police, called on women to have ‘situational awareness’.
“This is an area of high community activity… so just make sure you have situational awareness, that you’re aware of your surroundings,” he said, as reported by News.com.au.
“If you’ve got a mobile phone carry it and if you’ve got any concerns, call police.”
And another officer, Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper, echoed the sentiment, saying people needed to “be aware of their own personal security”.
So it was Eurydice’s responsibility to make sure that she was safe to walk home? Can we really be talking about victim-blaming here, when someone else’s actions led to her death?
One woman took to Twitter in response to these statements to point out that more than telling women their safety is their own responsibility, needs to be done.
“When young men are tragically killed in one punch attacks an entire city has its nightlife shut down indefinitely,” Elly Baxter shared on Twitter.
“When a young woman is brutally raped and murdered women are told to ‘take responsibility for their own safety’.”
When young men are tragically killed in one punch attacks an entire city has it's nightlife shut down indefinitely. When a young woman is brutally raped and murdered women are told to 'take responsibility for their own safety'.
— Elly Baxter (@ellybaxterpr) June 14, 2018
What she appears to be referring to is the fact that lockout laws were introduced in Sydney by the NSW Government in response to the one-punch attack on teenager Daniel Christie in January 2014.
Daniel had been out celebrating New Year’s Eve in Kings Cross and was randomly attacked at 9pm, just metres from the site where teenager Thomas Kelly had been fatally punched in July two years earlier.
Christie’s family called upon politicians to set laws that would help to stop alcohol-related violence, and within weeks the lockout laws were introduced for the Sydney CBD.
Elly’s tweet has received over 5,000 likes and been shared almost 3,000 times by many, both men and women, who believe the response to this latest senseless murder of a woman who was simply walking home was inadequate.
Many more shared similar sentiments and were outraged by the statements, calling it an “utterly appalling” response.
Ladies, groundbreaking statement from @VictoriaPolice after the brutal rape & murder of a young Melbourne woman: take responsibility for your safety & carry a mobile phone. (No tips for men on not raping & murdering innocent women.)#EurydiceDixon #ssdgm #women #ToxicMasculinity pic.twitter.com/Qys64zwhdX
— Nicole (@nicolewashere84) June 14, 2018
‘Take responsibility for our own safety?!’ What an utterly appalling statement from Victorian Police. It is in NO WAY this young woman’s fault she was raped and murdered on her way home work. Do better. @theage @VictoriaPolice https://t.co/1VMVfpuClh
— Elizabeth Blackmore (@Lizzie_A_Bee) June 14, 2018
Women have also been sharing a post that was originally penned by Australian writer Jane Gilmore in 2015, following the murder of Melbourne schoolgirl Masa Vukotic. The 17-year-old was raped and killed by a man while on her evening walk.
While this post may seem over dramatic to many, it perfectly sums the ludicrous idea that we as women are responsible for our own safety. That it’s up to us to make sure we dress appropriately, that if we choose to reject a man he has the right to retaliate.
After Masa’s murder in 2015 the advice was also to ‘keep safe’, and we were similarly outraged. But now it’s three years later in 2018, and what has really changed?
The fact that Daniel Christie’s murder on the street lead to a change in laws and yet a woman’s murder leads to a simple warning about safety is just no longer acceptable.
Thankfully the idea is catching on.
In a series of tweets today, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews agreed with the growing discontent online saying Ms Dixon “died because of her attacker’s decisions, not because of her own”.
“So our message to Victorian women is this: Stay home. Or don’t,” he wrote in the poignant message.
“Go out with friends at night. Or don’t. Go about your day exactly as you intend, on your terms. Because women don’t need to change their behaviour. Men do.”
In order for anything to change we have to keep speaking up, keep pushing things like the #Metoo movement, keep speaking to your friends and family, your brothers and teachers and one day this victim-blaming may cease to be an issue.
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