opinion

The national emergency that was ignored last week.

If you were to be asked to recap what the big news stories of last week were, two subjects probably spring to mind.

Firstly, you’ll likely refer to Christine Blasey-Ford’s sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court judge Brett Kavanaugh. And secondly, you might even name Nick Cummins’ decision not to pick any winner on The Bachelor.

But as we stopped to pick apart these two stories – one certainly more deserving than the other – a national emergency was unfolding right under our noses.

Australian women were dying. In their homes. In a playground. At work. And many barely noticed.

In total, six Australian women were ripped from the world within five days. Six women who had built families and forged careers and fostered friendships, only for their lives to be cut terrifyingly short.

These six deaths are part of our shameful epidemic of gendered violence, and yet we are seeing no national outrage, no pledges to act from our leaders, no fiercely-worded statements.

On Tuesday night, three children were left motherless after their mum, Gayle Potter, was killed in a hit-and-run outside her house in eastern Victoria.

Gayle Potter. Image: Facebook.
Gayle Potter. Image: Facebook.

Police later charged her ex-husband Glenn Martyn with murder, alleging he was behind the wheel of the vehicle and drove off when paramedics tried desperately to save her.

Friends remembered the 46-year-old Traralgon mum as an extremely popular and dedicated mother, often seen watching over her children as they rode horses around paddocks in the front yard.

The following morning, a Sydney park usually filled with young families turned horribly grim.

A homicide investigation was sparked after a council worker discovered a woman's clothed body near a playground in Buffalo Creek Reserve at Hunters Hill.

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She was found in harrowing circumstances, with her hands and neck bound.

Police are still combing through missing person's reports in an effort to establish the victim's identity.

Then, on Thursday night, an unnamed 29-year-old woman died inside her home in Palmerston, NT, after an alleged aggravated assault.

Paramedics rushed to the scene, but she could not be saved.

A 34-year-old man has since been charged with murder and - tellingly - with contravening a domestic violence order.

On Friday morning, the bodies of two women were uncovered in their homes in two different states.

kristie powell
Kristie Powell. Image: Facebook.

First, the alarm was raised in NSW's Wollongong after 39-year-old Kristie Powell was found dead by a friend.

Just metres away from where she lay, covered in blood, her five-month-old baby boy was asleep in his bedroom. He was unharmed.

Chillingly, Ms Powell had earlier in the year posted to Facebook saying she had a stalker who had been sending her death threats.

kristie powell
Kristie Powell's Facebook post. Image: Facebook.
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She said she sometimes received 100 calls or texts every day from the "obsessed" man who called himself "the Reaper".

Police have since announced they are looking to speak to 29-year-old Bhanu Kirkman as part of their investigation.

Later on the same morning Ms Powell's body was discovered, emergency services were called to a house fire in Ballarat, Victoria. After the blaze was extinguished, the body of mother-of-two Dannyll Goodsell was found.

dannyll goodlsell
Dannyll Goodlsell. Image: Facebook.

Only, police believe Ms Goodsell died before the fire.

A 35-year-old man is now due to face court charged with her murder.

Finally, on Saturday night, a woman died after she burst into a cafe pleading for help in the West Australian city of Rockingham.

The 50-year-old social worker had been visiting a client in a block of nearby units when she sustained fatal stabbing injuries.

She managed to drive herself to the cafe, where staff called an ambulance. She later died from her wounds in hospital.

A 37-year-old man has been charged with her murder.

The tragedy of all this is that these are six deaths that should never have happened. And yet they're occurring at an alarming rate.

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According to data collated by Destroy The Joint, 52 women have died violent deaths in Australia so far in 2018. That's more than one every week.

And last week's numbers are a particularly large stain on an already pitiful record, accounting for about 11 per cent of the year's deaths.

This is without a doubt a national emergency. And yet we aren't hearing a peep from our country's leaders.

We need to open our eyes to the crisis, and Red Heart Campaign founder Sherele Moody put it best. Her post was later shared by broadcaster Meshel Laurie.

 

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A post shared by Meshel Laurie (@meshel_laurie) on

They are stories we don't want to hear, but need to. Only by talking about it can we keep violence against women at the forefront of every woman and every man's mind. Every Australian should be furious and should be taking a stand.

We need to demand action from our state and federal governments to curb the violence, from pouring much-needed funds to front-line services through to supporting respectful relationships programs in schools so our children have better hope of avoiding jail or an early grave.

So next time you're discussing the news of the day, make it this. Because if we have any hope of extinguishing our culture of misogyny, we need to stop ignoring it.

-With AAP

If this article brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

You can follow Sophie Aubrey on Twitter.

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