Australia's political silence enables the slaughter of women

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(Image via @DestroyTheJoint)

Seven women have been murdered in as many days but their deaths are irrelevant to Australian politicians, writes Dr Jennifer Wilson.

IT'S PROBABLY SAFE to make the bold assertion that as seven women have been slaughtered in alleged intimate partner violence in as many days, without any acknowledgement of their deaths by Australian politicians, we are living in a misogynistic culture that places very little value on the lives of women.

Five of the slaughtered women had children.

Imagine, if you will, the outcry had seven young men been killed in the last week by other men in “king hit” incidents during a night out.

Imagine, if you will, the outcry if seven people had been attacked by crocodiles or sharks in as many days.

Yet women? Murdered by intimate partners?


Needles in strawberries saw Prime Minister Scott Morrison spend the best part of three days vigorously addressing the threat to our well-being presented by this act of food terrorism.

Yet the threat to the lives and wellbeing of women and children by an epidemic of intimate partner violence apparently left the PM’s emotions undisturbed.

Nothing either from his Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer.

There is no other situation in which seven human beings would be murdered in eight days in Australia that would fail to draw outrage and immediate action from politicians.

Intimate partner violence in Australia is normalised. If seven women can be slaughtered in as many days without one Australian politician bothering to comment, then the murder of women by intimate partners is regarded by politicians as so ordinary as to be unworthy of their attention.

Domestic violence occurs across all demographics. It is less obvious, though not necessarily less prevalent, in communities where money and privilege enable privacy, allowing perpetrators and victims to more easily conceal their situations. Less affluent communities are more closely surveilled: violence is not as readily hidden.

The cost of family violence in Australia is estimated in a 2016 KPMG report to be around $16.5 billion per year – an increase of $7.2 billion since 2009 – yet even that staggering figure is not sufficient to rouse politicians to comment and action.

I don’t know how many women have to die before their deaths matter.

I don’t know what I, or any other person who cares, can do to make this ongoing slaughter matter.

At this point, I could link the reader to any number of academic papers on domestic violence.

It wouldn’t make any difference.

I could then link the reader to any number of state and federal government media releases on the action they plan to take against domestic violence.

It wouldn’t make any difference.

I could then link the reader to any number of personal accounts of the experience of domestic violence, as an adult and/or as a child.

It wouldn’t make any difference.

How do I know this? Because women have been writing and speaking and raging and weeping about this issue since 1980. And it has not made any difference. If it had made any difference, seven women who were slaughtered in the last eight days might still be alive.

This could not happen in a society that valued women. It could not happen in a society that valued children. It can only happen in a misogynist society. There is no argument to be had about this. The evidence speaks for itself. You do not permit seven women to be slaughtered in as many days without political comment unless those deaths are irrelevant to you. You do not remain silent about deaths that matter. The deaths of these seven women are irrelevant to Australian politicians.

When politicians maintain silence on such slaughter, they are complicit. Their silence says everything.

Their silence enables murder.

53 women have been murdered in Australia in 2018.

The following names of the most recent dead are recorded by Counting Dead Women, along with 46 others at Destroy the Joint:

Nicole Cartwright

Gayle Potter

Dannyll Goodsell

Kristie Powell

Erana Nahu

Un-named woman, Palmerston, Northern Territory

Jacqueline Lynn Francis

You can follow Dr Jennifer Wilson on her blog No Place for Sheep or on Twitter @NoPlaceForSheep.

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