real life

Her name is Mayang Prasetyo. And that's all that matters.

Mayang Prasetyo.

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.

The front cover of The Courier Mail yesterday.

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.

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But it doesn’t mean that they’re not terrorising or murdering their partners and families every week.

Turning the alleged perpetrator, Marcus Volke, into a ‘monster’ allows people to forget that intimate partner violence is committed by ordinary men.

In Victoria, intimate partner violence is the leading cause of death, illness or disability for women aged between 15 and 44. It outstrips common risk factors for illness or death like high-blood pressure, smoking, illicit drugs, alcohol or obesity. In Australia today, 1.6 million women have experienced family or intimate partner violence. One in three women will experience it at some point in their lives.

That’s just the official data. Less than half of this kind of abuse is reported.

We have government-funded campaigns to stop you getting too fat, to stop you smoking, and stop you speeding. You’ll hear people everywhere taking this message on board and making resolutions to eat better, get fit, and quit smoking because it’s something that everyone now knows is a killer.

But the truth is that there is a more virulent killer. An everyday killer that we either ignore or turn into the bogey man. We don’t talk about it – except when it is done by a celebrity or in circumstances that are particularly ghoulish, when we relish every single scintillating detail.

Women are suffering and dying in this country as the result of intimate partner violence.

These women are not dying at the hands of Monster Chefs. They are dying at the hands of ordinary men who are supposed to cherish them in the one place where they should be safe.

So, this week, choose not to be taken in or blinded by the sensational aspects of this case.

A woman died.

Her name is Mayang Prasetyo.

The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line – 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
Men who are concerned about their behaviour can call the Men’s Referral Service: 1800 065 973
Children/ young people needing help can call Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
In an emergency, always dial 000.