opinion

Why does nobody want to know the woman at the centre of the Melbourne terrorist attack?

The only thing we know about the woman in the Buckingham serviced apartments in Melbourne who was bound and gagged and held hostage by a terrorist on Monday is that she is an escort.

The 29-year-old terrorist, Yacqub Khayre, booked the services of the escort or sex worker (the preferred identifier media organisations used) and then used her as a hostage to lure police. He tied her up and called triple zero and Channel 7, claiming to have a bomb as well as a hostage.

During the phone calls reports say a woman could be heard screaming in the background.

LISTEN: What is life really like for someone who works in the sex industry? (Post continues…)

Khayre, who said he was carrying out the attack in the name of ISIS and is known to counter-terrorism authorities, is believed to have taken the woman hostage so he could then ambush and kill anti-terror police when they responded.

According to the Victorian Police Commissioner, Graham Ashton, the terrorist shot and killed the building’s clerk before he took the woman hostage. After calling triple zero he then waited outside the apartments in the bushes for police to arrive.

When they did arrive Khayre shot at police, injuring three, but was killed in the gunfight.

In her 20 or 30s, the woman was a hostage for around two hours.

She is an escort. A woman bound and tied in a serviced apartment in an “upmarket” area of Melbourne for hours by a terrorist who was on parole and who murdered a man before he took her hostage.

Then nothing.

Normally by now there would be another identifier to describe her. We would be demanding to know more and, even though her identity might be suppressed, news outlets would be reacting to our curiosity. Telling us she is a mother of three. Or a sister. Or a teacher. Or a 27-year-old local. Or blonde or brunette or regarded as the life of the party or a good friend and neighbour or kept to herself.

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But we have no details. No way to make her into a whole person in our minds. We have sex worker. Then nothing.

Melbourne terror attack
Police rope off area outside serviced apartments in Brighton. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

She's a sex worker, not a woman kidnapped off the street at random. She's not one of us. Surely sex workers put themselves in danger every single working day?

Does that lessen her pain and suffering today? I wouldn't think so.

I don't know anything about the woman who was kidnapped and held hostage in the Melbourne terror attack that left two people dead.

I only know she is a woman. A daughter too. Probably a friend. Maybe a sister. A person who is traumatised and scared now.

She is a sex worker and she is human like all of us.

My thoughts go out to her and I hope she is okay and getting the help and support she needs.