Trigger warning: This post deals with domestic violence and alleged murder and may be triggering for some readers.
By AMY STOCKWELL
This week we heard about the death of a woman in Brisbane. She was allegedly killed by her fiancé.
Her name was Mayang Prasetyo. She was 27.
That’s all that really matters about the case which has fascinated Australia this week.
And while the circumstances of her death were grisly, the fact that she died isn’t unusual or bizarre.
In this country, one woman dies every week at the hands of their partner.
Tragically, in Australia, family and intimate partner violence is the most common of crimes. It is also the most poorly reported.
There is a pattern to the way that crimes of this kind are reported in the media. They tend to either be reported sensationally with gruesome and intimate details splashed across the page (sound familiar?), or in a perfunctory piece with limited relevant detail – if these crimes are reported at all.
Fortunately, there has been an outcry about the way that Ms Prasetyo’s death has been reported. Queensland’s Courier Mail ran the headline “Monster Chef and the She-Male” accompanied by a picture of Ms Prasetyo in a provocative pose, wearing a bikini. Despite being roundly condemned for their coverage, on Tuesday night the Courier Mail online was still running with the headline: “Killed and cooked trans woman was high-class sex worker”.
This kind of revolting reporting does three things:
- It makes it seem like Ms Prasetyo was somehow to blame for her own death – because she was trans, because she was sexy or because of her employment history. This focus on her behaviour or her personal details shifts the blame from the only person who is responsible: her murderer.
- The focus on sensational details removes our attention from the fact that a woman died. She has friends and family. This is a tragedy, not a titillating tale.
- Turning the alleged perpetrator into a ‘monster’ allows people to forget that intimate partner violence is committed by ordinary men: people who wouldn’t stand out in the street, in your workplace or in your apartment block.
Most perpetrators of intimate and family violence aren’t boiling their victims. In fact, perpetrators of family and intimate partner violence are more likely to show a friendly face to the world.