Herald Sun Op-Ed – Only men have the power to stop this

I wrote this Op-Ed in the Herald Sun on 23rd April 2024.

Australia, we have a problem. A men’s problem, with women.

In the 16 weeks since New Year’s Day, 30 women have been killed, most by a man they knew. Three women from the Ballarat community have died – Samantha Murphy, Rebecca Young and Hannah McGuire.

It appears the stabbing attacks at Bondi Junction were carried out by a man targeting women. Five of the six murdered were women, and most of those treated in hospital were women. We cannot continue to avoid this national emergency.

Women cannot protect themselves from murder by men. Only men can stop this. Mental illness can’t provide cover for violence against women but should provoke us to tackle what is underlying it. Because misogyny is ideological, and a wave of terror is affecting our nation, much of it behind closed doors.

Women are dying and, often unreported, women are being hurt. A woman from my electorate of Goldstein, for example, is still in hospital after her partner tried to kill her with a tyre lever in an attempted murder-suicide. We need to target violent online porn and misogynistic social media influencers, and make sure there are criminal consequences to deter violence.

Not all men disrespect women and not all disrespect towards women results in violence. But all violence against women starts with disrespect. Until every Australian man recognises their role in changing that, in ceasing to be a bystander, this will not end.

I urge the government to increase its commitment to reflect the scale of the violence. It’s about prevention. As it stands, we are missing crucial opportunities to intervene. Hannah McGuire asked for help that didn’t come. Now she’s dead.

We need to better combine data to see the gaps, fully fund the Escaping Violence Program and, while the states have been funded by the commonwealth for 500 more frontline workers, only a fraction have been hired. And as the Brittany Higgins case shows, we must commit to across-the-board consent programs for young men and boys.

Boys must be taught the difference between healthy masculinity and toxic masculinity. About two women per week have been killed since the new year. Which mother, sister, daughter or two, will die next week? Enough is enough.

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