Jade Lin is an Economics/Arts student at the Australian National University. She is a Project Officer with the Unveiled Institute where she is assessing the suitability of domestic violence services provided to young CALD women in the ACT as part of The Loo Project. Here, she writes about another young woman Australia lost to men’s violence against women this month…
Eurydice Dixon’s death touched people around the nation. They flocked to parks for vigils, and called their sisters, friends and daughters to check that they were okay. We speak of how she was a rising star in comedy, a beloved member of the community, and a young, vibrant woman, gone too soon.
In the last six years, Australia has most deeply felt the unfair deaths of Jill Meagher, Sophie Collombet, and now Eurydice Dixon; young, white women, raped and murdered by men they did not know well, or indeed, at all. These were moments that united our nation in horror, and these are women who absolutely deserve to be remembered.
But so does Qi Yu.
Instead, mainstream media has reported her death procedurally, providing us with the facts of the murder as the investigation unfolds.
Eurydice Dixon was murdered on Tuesday June 12. Qi Yu was murdered on Friday June 8. The media’s attention has focused on Eurydice’s later death, and Qi Yu’s has amounted to a glancing comment about our failure to protect women, an afterthought to Eurydice.
None of the articles tell us who Qi Yu was, or what failures led to her death.
She was a 28-year-old Chinese woman living in Australia, allegedly murdered by her 19-year old housemate. Her neighbour, Vincent Chen, described her as “a very honest and quiet girl, a very nice girl.”
I wish I could tell you more about what she did for a living, when she moved to Australia, and why. Unfortunately, it seems like most of Australia just doesn’t care.
So is our lack of attention to Qi Yu as a person because she was a woman of colour and an international resident with little political capital in this country? Or was it because she was allegedly killed by a man she knew?
My guess is it’s a little bit of both.
Qi Yu lived in Campsie, a multicultural hub of metropolitan Sydney. Australia’s multiculturalism should be admired; but we should also critically assess unacceptable attitudes towards violence within certain communities. The National Community Attitudes towards Violence Against Women Survey tells us that up to a third of people born in non-English speaking countries believe victims are partially to blame for violence against them and such people are less likely to agree violence against women was common.
It’s easiest to support those who look like us and live around us. Australian-born women are able to access support with less shame and more legitimacy, and in the wake of their deaths, their communities don’t allow them to go unacknowledged.
Women of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, an at-risk group, are stifled by their communities’ attitudes that minimise violence against them. Further, there is less reason for wider Australia to care when it seems the violence these women face is different to their own; it’s easy for external observers to say there are “other cultural factors” at play, minimising CALD experiences and justifying not stepping in, not writing articles, not calling to arms. Yet, violence is violence and should be called out as such.
Her community is culturally unwilling to advocate for better protections for women like her, or indeed for her to be remembered. But the greatest shame of all is that Australia is complicit—why have there been so few articles, such little support, for Qi Yu? And what does it tell women in CALD communities facing violent circumstances about their chances of being supported if they resist the norms?
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has reported that comprehensive data of violence rates against at-risk groups is unreliable, limited or missing; it seems women like Qi Yu go unacknowledged even at a governmental level.
It begs the question—what has been done since this report to secure such data?
It scares me that if something unthinkable happened to me, a young woman of colour who grew up in the very suburb that Qi Yu was killed in, I would disappear into the background—become a murder mystery for people to puzzle over, an afterthought to another person’s death, instead of sparking real questions into the pervasive violence against women like me.
We know we are more likely than our peers to experience violence, and that this will continue forevermore if even our deaths cannot spark a national debate.
Qi Yu’s death falls into a category with little to no data—violence at the hands of a housemate who was not romantically involved with her.
Violence within the home, regardless of perpetrator, fails to capture the attention of Australia. Perhaps it is because it is so commonplace that the public is exhausted by it, with one in six women having experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of a cohabiting partner since they were fifteen. Yet, when violence in any context becomes unremarkable, we as the public are failing.
Or, perhaps it is subconscious victim-blaming; no one can control a stranger jumping out at him or her, but people have control over who they choose to associate with.
Qi Yu’s murder was not her fault, but that of her murderer.
Too many women have fallen through the cracks; their experiences not captured by data, not translated into our justice systems and support services. We have forgotten the most vulnerable women in our society and left our government unaccountable.
I can’t tell you exactly why Qi Yu is fading into just another statistic. Maybe she’s not white enough. Maybe her community has failed her. Maybe we all subconsciously think that women killed at home could have saved themselves.
All I really know is that young women, full of potential and humanity, should be honoured no matter who they were or how they died. Their deaths should tell us that we are failing them, and to spark conversation and critically examine every institution that should be supporting them. That’s the least we can do to honour them.