lifestyle

Masa was a student. She was a daughter. She was a friend. She could have been any one of us.

A young woman’s death is a visceral reminder that women are unsafe in the world.

This week, a 17-year-old girl was murdered.

She was a school student. She was a daughter. She was a friend.

Her name was Masa Vukotic.

“Versailles is the most beautiful place on earth” she wrote on her Facebook page.

Masa was walking through a small park near her home in Doncaster, Melbourne, in the early evening. It was around 6:30pm, which was, at this time of year, in daylight.

Witnesses heard a scream and then saw someone running away from the park. The first people on the scene found that Masa had been stabbed. She was in cardiac arrest and later died.

Today, a man has been arrested for that crime.

Masa’s death is incredibly tragic. For her family, for her community and for her highschool friends.

And it is heart-rendingly sad.

The memorial outside the park where Masa was killed (via Twitter).

Masa was in high school. She was 17. It should have been the best year of her life. We have seen beautiful photos of Masa in front of monuments on overseas holidays. She had travelled thousands of kilometres across the world. But she lost her life less than 500 metres from her home.

Her death is sad for everyone who knew Masa. It is sad for the people of Melbourne.

And it is sad for people across the country who are 17, who know someone who is 17 or who has ever been 17. We mourn with her family the life that Masa never got to live.

For more: We must talk about violence against women in Parliament- Bill Shorten.

But Masa’s death is especially sad for women.

It’s sad because it is a visceral reminder that women are unsafe in the world.

As women, somewhere in the back of our minds we are always conscious of our safety. We have to be. We talk to each other about it, we warn each other about it. Mothers tell their daughters to carry their keys laced in their fingers. Some women carry pens. We are vigilant when we get into cabs alone or when we put friends into cabs. We are lectured about where to go and how to be safe.

We are treated like potential victims – by others and to some extent by ourselves. It’s the first thing we think of when we walk anywhere alone or if our car breaks down: what if I am attacked?

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“Masa had travelled thousands of kilometres across the world. But she lost her life less than 500 metres from her home.”

Discussions have already begun about whether Masa made herself vulnerable. Police have mentioned that she was wearing earphones. Neighbours have said that there have been ‘flashers’ in that park.

But women know the truth: a senseless death like Masa’s reminds us that there is very little that we can do to prevent something that is, at its core, an act of evil.

We are sad because we do what Masa did every single day of our lives. We walk. We go places with intent. We wander. We exercise. Masa could have been any one of us. Our sister, our daughter, our friend.

More: Violence against women doesn’t always look like you think it should.

We are sad because the first reaction of people is not to condemn those who would attack women, but to remind women and girls that they should take better care of themselves.

We are sad because we would like to pretend that something like this is a once off, that it’s rare, that it hardly ever happens: but we know that’s not true. One in three women will experience violence in their lifetime. Most will be assaulted in their own home. But others will be attacked while walking down the street or in a park like Prahba Arun Kumar last week.

Masa’s murder is not scary because this evil act is random. It is scary because it is not.

We are sad because there are other women murdered in our community that we don’t hear about because they are sex workers or somehow doing something that people consider ‘risky’.

We are sad because women are being murdered in our community, on the streets and in their homes and addressing it is not the most important thing on our government’s agenda.

We are sad and we are angry.

Masa Vukotic died this week. A beautiful life cut far too short. Rest in peace.

Please leave your tribute to Masa in the comments, below. 

Mamamia aims to publish a variety of opinions on the important topics of the day. For more try these:

The one tip that will stop women from being killed.

An open letter to women, from a man who is concerned about their safety.

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