news

Two sisters under the age of 5 are dead. A man believed to be their father is in court.

Trigger Warning: This post deals with issues of domestic violence and may be triggering for survivors of abuse.

Savannah, 4 and Indianna, 3, were found dead at their grandmother’s home just two days ago.

Today the Melbourne man accused of murdering the girls appeared in court and he was reportedly quiet.

The man is believed to be the girls’ father.

He had no family there with him. And was represented by a lawyer from Legal Aid.

Charles Mihayo, 35, was seated behind glass and appeared before the court for only 50 seconds. He was remanded in custody and will come forward again for a committal mention on August 12.

Mihayo was married to the girls’ mother but they separated a year ago. He’s since been living in the granny’s flat on the property where the two girls were found.

At this stage, all that is known is that on Sunday a family celebration was being held at the grandmother’s house. But by 2.40pm, the family was frantically calling emergency services.

No further details have been released by the police.

Speaking to the media, Assistant Police Commissioner Andrew Crisp said: “It goes without saying this is a tragic set of circumstances that has impacted the family and there were a number of family members here at the time.”

“It’s first of all impacted friends, neighbours and also on members of the fire brigade and the ambulance services and members of Victoria Police that have attended the scene.”

No one knows yet what happened in this specific instance but attacks on innocent women and children by men in their family seem all too common. Only two months ago, Luke Batty was beaten to death by his father in front of his mother. Just last week, a woman was murdered in the street allegedly by her estranged husband. And as these attacks occur – again, and again, and again – people around the country are becoming more vocal in their demands that something, anything, needs to change.

ADVERTISEMENT
Fiona McCormack, the CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria, on 7.30.

Fiona McCormack, the CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria, appeared on 7.30 last night talking about this very issue.

Fiona said that “if women and children were being abused and murdered by strangers at the rate at which they’re being abused and murdered by men in their family, there’d be task forces, there’d be funding, there’d be political will. But as it is, it’s largely being met by political ambivalence”.

Her words echo an article from Mamamia’s Kate Leaver last week, after the death of a 33-year-old women in Melbourne. Mamamia published:

This woman’s death was senseless, violent and abhorrent.

It was also preventable. And that’s what takes my breath away.

… How many more scared, vulnerable women have to die before we make protecting them a priority? How many vicious men will kill, maim and injure their partners before the government declares domestic violence a national emergency?

And it’s not just women who are dying. It’s also their children, which Fiona says anecdotal evidence indicates is “that rather than children being the target, often in many of these cases, it’s actually the women who are being targeted”.

The family of Savannah and Indianna released a statement through the police and images of their darling children yesterday, saying, “We are utterly devastated at the loss of Savannah and Indianna.”

This is a devastation that will last a lifetime.

And next week, when we are likely to see another woman or child killed, it will be just as devastating again. For a different family.

Another week, another family.

That’s why Mamamia won’t stop covering these stories.

Those of us in the media have a responsibility to shine a light on domestic violence until it becomes a national priority. Here at Mamamia, we will continue to publish alarming statistics and horrifying victim’s stories until someone at a federal level says enough is enough. We will not stop until every woman is safe in her own home and safe from the people she loves. We will not stop.

If you would like to express your desire for reform, you should contact your State or Territory Premier.

If you believe you may be an abusive partner, you can receive help via Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277. If you have experienced, or are at risk of domestic violence or sexual assault, you can receive help by calling 1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732. If you are in immediate danger please call the police on 000.

Do you believe that the laws need to change? Or do you think that this can only be addressed on a societal level?

00:00 / ???