Thousands of Australians have marched through the streets of Melbourne today to honour the memory of Jill Meagher.
Police estimated more than 30,000 attended the march which stretched over a kilometre from Moreland Road to Brunswick Street.
Along the way, many men, women and children stopped to lay flowers at the Duchess Boutique.
Others paused a few doors up, at the Brunswick Baptist Church, to light a candle and say a prayer.
Later in the day a condolence book was available outside the church for people to express their condolences to Jill’s family.
Creator and Publisher of Mamamia, Mia Freedman wrote about the massive impact that Jill’s death has had on Australians, particularly women:
If the shudder that went through women of all ages this week had a name, it would be this: there but for the grace of God go I.
The news of Jill Meagher’s abduction, the arrest of a suspect and the devastating recovery of her body have hit hard and people have reacted in very different ways.
Some have lashed out in anger at the idea women should ever be scared to walk the streets. They have cried ‘victim blaming’ at any suggestion, even with the wisdom of hindsight, that Jill shouldn’t have walked home alone.
Others have eviscerated the media, accusing them of being parasitic vultures and conveniently ignoring the likelihood that the blanket coverage this case has received all week in traditional and social media helped resolve the case so swiftly. And that Jill herself was of the media, with friends and colleagues who helped rally public attention in the most positive way.
Most of us though, were struck by the senseless, terrifying randomness of it, recalling countless occasions we’ve walked in Jill’s shoes after a night out with friends. The spectre of a random attack is one that sits in every woman’s psyche like a squatter, sometimes making its presence felt and causing us to amend our behaviour and other times ignored.
According to the NSW Rape Crisis centre, only 1% of sexual assaults are committed by strangers. But that 1% is 100% for women like Jill and it’s a statistic that hangs over us all.
So what to take away from this tragedy. How to make sense of it. That’s for every woman to decide for herself. But the impact of this crime has touched women and reminded us of our vulnerability in a way that men may not fully comprehend.
It’s something we live with every day. It’s something we impress upon our daughters while simultaneously not wanting them to live in fear. Just vigilance.
Our thoughts are with Jill’s family, friends and ABC colleagues.