opinion

Ever wondered what a woman's life is worth? We found out today. Four years less than a man's.

Karen Ristevski’s life was worth six years.

That’s how long her husband, 55-year-old Borce Ristevski, will spend in jail for taking it. A maximum sentence of nine years, a minimum of six, for manslaughter.

With time already served, he’ll be out in less than five.

That’s 2,190 days, for killing his wife, burying her in the bush, lying to family, friends, his own daughter, until the evidence left him stuck.

For pleading with the public for information only he could have possibly known, and carrying her coffin at a funeral he was responsible for.

For letting police work tirelessly – searching rivers, draining dams and scouring farmland metre by metre – looking for a person whose whereabouts he knew.

For letting her body be discovered eight months later, by two horticulturists who noticed a smell, before seeing a skull.

For leaving everyone who loved Karen with no definitive answers as to what actually happened, even when he pleaded guilty. For giving them no account of how she spent her final moments, when he is the only one who knows.

Six years.

The day before Borce Ristevski received his sentence, 24-year-old Joseph Esmaili became the first to receive a minimum of 10 years in prison for a fatal coward punch.

In May 2017, surgeon Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann asked a group of people to stop smoking outside the hospital entrance.

A loud, aggressive argument broke out, and according to Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth as she addressed Esmaili in court, “you pulled your right hand out from behind your back, and punched him with a clenched first to the head”.

Pritzwald-Stegmann suffered catastrophic brain injuries, and his life support was switched off a month later. He had a wife, Christine, and five-year-old twin daughters.

Joseph Esmaili is guilty of manslaughter, and will spend at least ten years in prison for it.

Ten years.

If the lives of innocent victims were measured in prison terms, this week, it seems, a man’s is worth four years more than a woman’s.

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In 2014, New South Wales became the first state to bring in new ‘one-punch’ laws following two high profile deaths. Two 18-year-old men, on two separate nights out in Sydney, died as a result of single blows to the head.

borce ristevski sentence
Daniel Christie (left) and Tom Kelly (right) were killed in one punch attacks.

They were stories that captured the attention of the public, and made us stop. Innocent men, enjoying their lives, killed suddenly.

It was a moment of reckoning for alcohol-fuelled violence.

But with one woman killed by her husband every week in Australia, where is the moment of reckoning for domestic violence?

Outside court on Thursday, Stephen Williams, the brother of Karen Ristevski, told reporters, “we did not get justice today”.

“As a society, in regard to domestic violence, we must, at some stage, take a stand.”

Today, a woman's life was worth four years less than a man's.

For Karen Ristevski, that cannot be justice.

For more from Clare Stephens, you can follow her on FacebookInstagram or Twitter.

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