by AMY STOCKWELL
Last week’s tragic events have been reported widely, with social media playing an important role in telegraphing information about Jill Meagher’s last known whereabouts and providing an avenue for a nation’s grief.
This was the Australian community at its best. Like never before, Australia has shown us a spontaneous and urgent community campaign to find a woman who they had never met; a powerful outpouring of support for a family who feared the worst; and ultimately, a flood of sadness for a life cut far too short.
But it has also shown Australia at its most disappointing.
We’ve seen fools spouting commentary about how Jill Meagher was dressed, what she was doing and where she was when this incident occurred. Blatantly blaming Jill for putting herself at risk, for being who and where she was that night.
Punters on the internet and hours of radio talkback have suggested that Jill should have been more careful, that she shouldn’t have been out walking home late at night, that the CCTV footage shows that her shoes were too high, that she was drunk and that her husband should have come to meet her at the bar to walk her home. Neil Mitchell from Melbourne’s 3AW flicked through Jill’s Facebook pictures and determined that she is a woman who “likes a good party” and her disappearance might be explained by her being “off partying somewhere”.
Do women who go to parties not deserve safety? Should women who go to the pub expect fear? Do shoes incite violence?
Clearly, this is nothing but condescending claptrap that only seeks to justify the inexcusable. No one should ever, ever be subject to judgement or blame for violence committed against them.
“Don’t dress that way, don’t walk that way, don’t be out so late” is the mantra of a society that thinks that it is acceptable for women to be attacked unless they keep themselves tidy and stay inside after dark. It entirely fails to place the blame and shame where it should lie: on those who perpetrate these crimes.