opinion

Today, the Prime Minister should be wearing a black tie.

This post deals with domestic violence and might be triggering for some readers. 

The Prime Minister should be wearing a black tie. 

Flags should be flying half-mast.

There should be a condolence motion on the floor of the House of Representatives and news presenters should be solemnly talking of little else. 

Every man with a microphone in front of him should be telling one story. This story.

This week is over and four women who should be with us are not because they were murdered by men who knew them.  

Four women. In two days. In one week. 

What our Prime Minister has been talking about these past few days is an offensive meme posted on a social media account overseas. What he's not talking about is that Australia's obscene crisis of family and domestic violence continues to claim and destroy hundreds, thousands of lives every week. 

Four women. In two days. In one week. 

These women range in age from 20 to 43.

They range in location from southern Melbourne's Narre Warren to regional Victoria's Ballarat to Sydney's Fairfield to a children's playground in central Darwin.

We know the names of only two of them at the time of publishing: Kobie Parfitt and Samr Dawoodi

We know scant, devastating details of their circumstances: Knife wounds. Kitchen floors. Relatives sobbing on front lawns. 

And almost always: A man known to the victim was arrested at the scene

Four women. In two days. In one week. 

The Prime Minister was released from quarantine on Thursday after two weeks of isolation. He said he couldn't wait to get home to his wife Jenny and their two daughters. He was looking forward to seeing the Christmas tree his girls had put up while he was shielding them from any potential harm. 

It's a picture of domestic harmony that wasn't afforded to the un-named woman stabbed to her death in the streets of Darwin on Tuesday. 

She was the 49th woman murdered by a man in Australia this year. 

We know that grim statistic because of the work carried out by the Counting Dead Women Australia researchers of Destroy The Joint. They are the witness bearers, taking names and keeping receipts since 2012.

The idea that we need an organisation that counts dead women should be enough to sear shame into the hearts of every Australian. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Four women. In two days. In one week. 

At media organisations like Mamamia our newsroom debates how to write about the familiar horror, how to 'cut through', how to tell the same depressing tale over and over and over, like some ghoulish groundhog day. 

'The story we don't want to write anymore', we wrote on Monday, the day we didn't yet know was record-breaking in the worst way - three violent deaths in one 24-hour period. It doesn't matter whether we want to write that story. Women need to keep telling them, because apparently, we are the only ones who are. 

Women's grass roots' organisers, women-focused media brands, women-led not for profits. Women researchers and activists, the relentless commitment of the Destroy The Joint researchers to make sure that every single one of these victims is counted, is remembered, is paid their tribute. 

Where are the men? 

Tarang Chawla lost his sister Nikita at the hands of her abuser in 2015. He regularly implores men - particularly the powerful ones - to stand up and shout about family violence. "The silence," he writes, "is deafening"

Four women. In two days. In one week. 

Watch 'Women And Violence: The Hidden Numbers'. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

The Prime Minister should be in a black tie. Every single time this happens, Scott Morrison should stop and speak the victim's name. 49 times this year. It isn't much to ask. 

It isn't much to ask because of what hides behind every one of those 49 names on the Counting Dead Women list. 

The brutal truth that the dead are only the thin end of a very large wedge.

Every two minutes, someone in Australia calls the police because she feels unsafe in her home. 

We only have a population of 24 million. Every two minutes. 

ADVERTISEMENT

And in this anxious, unsettled, disrupted and traumatic year, things have got an awful lot worse. Research from the Australian Institute of Criminology says 10 per cent of women in a relationship have experienced domestic or family violence during the pandemic.

One in 10 women in a relationship. 

Hayley Foster from Women's Safety NSW painted a picture of what's behind those statistics and phone calls to The Guardian this week. 

"2020 will be remembered as the worst year for domestic violence that any of us who are in the sector now have ever experienced," she said. "There [have been] just so many more strangulation cases, so many threats to kill, so many more serious head injuries, and sexual assaults [have been] going through the roof."

Four women. Two days. In one week. 

One call for help every two minutes. 

One in 10 women in relationship. 

Every prominent male in Australia should be asking 'What can I do?'.

Because this is not a problem for women to solve.

Women will tell these stories. Women will hold each other up. Offer solace and shelter. Lobby and agitate for change - change in the law to make an AVO mean something. Change the perception of what abuse looks like. Change the way these women are remembered. 

But women can't stop men abusing women. Only men can do that. Peer to peer, mate to mate, father to son, whatever it takes. Every day. 

The Prime Minister should be wearing a black tie. 

The flags should be at half mast. 

And every man with a microphone in front of him should be telling one story.

The outrage and shame and grief should be palpable.

Four women. In two days. In one week. 

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home. 

You can also call safe steps 24/7 Family Violence Response Line on 1800 015 188 or visit www.safesteps.org.au for further information.

Feature Image: Mamamia/Getty.

00:00 / ???