As violence against women continues, so does victim blaming.
A Victorian official of the Catholic church has been forced to make an apology on behalf of a priest, who told children and parents at a Melbourne primary school that Jill Meagher’s murder could have been avoided if she’d had more faith.
3AW reports that at an end-of-term service, the priest held up a copy of a newspaper to the 100 strong congregation, showing them an image of Meagher’s killer Adrian Bayley.
Apparently the priest told parishioners that if Meagher had been “more faith-filled” she “would have been home in bed.”
Meagher was murdered in the early hours of the morning on the 22nd of September 2012. She walking home from the pub down Sydney Road in Brunswick when she was kidnapped, and later raped and murdered.
Carolyn Worth, from the South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault, told Fairfax Media the priest’s comments were “victim blaming in its most extreme form”.
“It’s offensive to all women, certainly to Jill Meagher’s family. In some ways it’s insulting to religious people too because it isn’t about being out at 3am. [Masa Vukotic] was out at 7pm at a time lots of us would be out walking. You expect to be safe from being attacked at any of those times.
“To have someone suggest that the problem is that you don’t believe in God enough is ignoring completely what actually happens when there are dangerous men out attacking people.”
Mamamia has previously reported that Adrian Bayley, Meagher’s murderer had more than 20 prior convictions for rape. One of those rapes, of a woman in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda, took place in 2000, while two more rapes took place in Elwood and St Kilda in 2012, just months before Bayley raped and killed Jill Meagher.
Monsignor Greg Bennett, vicar-general of the archdiocese of Melbourne, criticised the local priest for his insensitive actions, telling 3AW, “We do not share the sentiment of the homily this morning and we certainly apologise for the hurt that this homily may have caused today.”
‘The reference to Jill Meagher in particular was offensive and inappropriate and the people of Victoria and Ireland mourn her sad and tragic death.’