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Kayla was murdered last week. We heard more about the achievements of her alleged killer.

Two Australian women were killed last week, but most of the media coverage has missed the mark yet again by centring their stories around the men who allegedly took their lives.

In Sydney, 24-year-old Michaela Dunn was killed by a man armed with a knife on Tuesday. Her death made national news after her alleged murderer was stopped from inflicting further harm by a group of brave men who used a milk crate to pin him down in Sydney’s CBD until police were able to detain him.

In Western Australia, 26-year-old Kayla Rose Halnan was killed on Tuesday. Kayla’s body was found with a bullet wound to the chest at her place of work. Kayla was a business support officer who, just like Michaela, had her whole life ahead of her.

Women and violence, the hidden numbers. Post continues below. 

But sadly, like countless other victims of homicidal men’s violence, Kayla’s death barely rated a mention and her name was obscured from news reports, with almost all the coverage focusing on the man who has since been charged with her murder.

It’s 2019 and I can’t believe I still have to write this, but for anyone who is still unsure: A murdered woman is more important than the man who killed her.

It pains me that we have heard and seen more information about the men involved than the women at the heart of the matter. In fact, news reporting of Kayla’s death has focused on the man’s former career as a boxer, his fame within his local community and his subsequent career in the construction and mining industry. Let that sink in for a minute: The media is more interested in telling us the career CV of an alleged murderer than the woman he killed.

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Whether it is to satisfy the public’s curiosity with violent crime or part of a broader narrative where the actions of alleged killers are excused and minimised, this kind of media reporting is harmful and dangerous.

This is a cause I know a lot about and is far too close to home since my 23-year-old sister Nikita was murdered by her partner in January 2015. A simple Google search of my sister’s name, herself an accomplished performing artist and choreographer, reveals little more than her relationship status to the poor excuse of a man who took her life.

It hurts me that we are living in a world where many of us are fighting for equality and for the achievements of women to be recognised and valued, yet the media manages to further dehumanise those women who have suffered the most serious crime known to humankind.

At least one woman a week is being killed by a current or former partner, and the role of the media in helping to educate and challenge this behaviour is integral. Australia remains at a crisis point of men’s violence against women and while our political leaders remain unwilling to act to prevent deaths in the short-term, we need responsible and ethical media reporting to help change the story now more than ever.

Tarang Chawla is the Founder of the Not One More Niki campaign to end violence against women, a 2017 Young Australian of the Year Finalist and proud brother to Niki. You can follow Tarang Chawla on Facebook and Twitter

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.

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