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Three women. Three bodies. Three stories we wish we didn't have to tell.

Danielle Easey was a 29-year-old mother of two. A “caring and selfless soul”, her family said. “The most beautiful person in the world.”

Devorah Howard, 56, was “gorgeous inside and out”, according to her sister, “and just wanted to help everyone”. She lived with her mother and her beloved dog, Harvey.

Ioli Hadjilyra was a dual Australian-Cypriot citizen. Police described her as popular, and a passionate, talented sketch artist. She was just 26 years old.

These three women were found dead this week.

Video by Mamamia

Danielle’s body was pulled from a creek in NSW’s Lake Macquarie region on Saturday. She’d been wrapped in plastic and dumped, possibly as many as 16 days earlier, police said.

On Tuesday morning, coastal fisherman spotted Devorah’s shirtless body floating in the water near a boat ramp at Terrigal on the NSW Central Coast. Earlier that morning, her dog was found alone nearby, barking and pining at the water’s edge.

Ioli’s body was discovered in a garden bed at Kalinga Park on Brisbane’s northside around midday on Wednesday. She was bruised and bleeding.

The deaths are currently under investigation, and it’s been reported that all three are being treated as suspicious. Police have confirmed Danielle’s death was the result of murder, making her the 34th woman to be killed in 2019. That’s 34 lives violently taken, 34 families left grieving. In just eight months.

In 2018, that number reached 71, according to Destroy The Joint, an activist group that catalogues every incidence of femicide in Australia. In 2017, it was 53. In 2016, 71. The year before that, 80.

Millions more have experienced violence, the majority in their own homes. The Government’s 2016 Personal Safety Survey found that, since the age of 15, one in four Australian women had experienced violence at the hands of an intimate partner. That’s 2.2 million women.

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Meanwhile, politicians and community leaders express their sadness and condemnation, organisations pen commitments and action plans, governments invest funds into service delivery and awareness-raising.

As of June this year, the Federal Government alone had injected $723 million into the 12-year National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

The strategy was forged in partnership with state and territory governments with a “vision” of “an Australia free from all forms of violence and abuse against women and their children”.

While the unprecedented funding is undoubtedly welcome progress, nine years on, there’s no clear indication whether it’s having a meaningful impact.

Of course, it’s not as simple as 12 years and billions of dollars.

As Anastasia Powell, Associate Professor, Criminology and Justice Studies, RMIT University, noted via The Conversation, “research indicates the main causes of violence against women are gender inequality, sexist and discriminatory attitudes, and associating masculinity with dominance and aggression”.

It’s worth acknowledging, then, that 20 per cent of the Fourth Action Plan funding is allocated toward prevention strategies, including the $20.9 million set aside for domestic violence organisation Our Watch to establish a national prevention hub.

But institutional change takes time. We’re talking about fundamentally changing culture, quashing centuries-old ideas about gender and power dynamics in relationships. There are glimpses of that shift happening all around us, albeit slowly — the #metoo and Time’s Up movements, increasing representation of women in politics and on corporate boards.

As progress creeps forward at this painful pace, it’s a sickening inevitability that there will be more women beaten, more bodies found, more stories we only learn by virtue of another human being deciding how they will end.

And that’s precisely why must keep telling them.

If you have any information relating to the deaths of Danielle Easey, Devorah Howard or Ioli Hadjilyra, please contact CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.

If you are dealing with domestic violence, support is available 24 hours a day through 1800 RESPECT. Please call 1800 737 732 or visit the website to chat to a trained counsellor.

Tags: crime-2 , news-stories
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