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.
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.
Masa’s death is incredibly tragic. For her family, for her community and for her highschool friends.
And it is heart-rendingly sad.
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.
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?