It felt like last week social media and journalists could only talk of one person – Gillian Meagher. Having gone missing in the early hours of Saturday 22nd September an extensive search was on to find her. Just short of one week after her disappearance she was found in the worst circumstance.
Gillian captured our hearts and our minds. Even I, who never knew her felt compelled write about her disappearance. But at the end of that long and sad week I began to wonder, what was it about this beautiful, smiling Irish woman that captivated us all?
Her alleged abduction and murder made many women speak out about the sexual harassment and intimidation they often feel. Educated, middle class, white women took to blogs, facebook, twitter and talk back to express their frustration at the world we live in.
I was one of them. And then my partner asked me, what if she was from a working class family in a poor socio economic area, would it still resonate as much?
That was a hard question to answer, I wanted to say yes but honestly felt the answer was no. Firstly I believe the media would have handled it differently. They may not have treated this as such an unfortunate or unnatural situation, and instead paint a picture of it being a product of her circumstance.
And what if it happened in Perth, Hobart or Adelaide?
Being a South Australian I am fairly confident the rest of the country would think this kind of thing happened all the time.
Violence is violence, no matter where it happens, or whom it happens to.
Last week all I could think of was Gillian. But now she is gone, we will march in Reclaim the Night and then what?
When a young man was king hit in Kings Cross in July Sydney City Council undertook reforms to curb this type of alcohol-fueled violence.
What reforms are being introduced to stop violence against women?
Melboure City Council is considering more CCTV’s in the area. While CCTV footage caught Gillian’s last moments, they did not save her, so is this really the answer?
Back in 2007 the Federal Government ran a campaign “Violence against Women, Australia says No!”. While it made little statistical impact they at least gave us tools to start teaching our young sons and daughters that this type of behavior is not tolerated.
What happened to Gillian and the debate it created can’t stop just because she has been found. We can’t stop marching and we can’t stop demanding that we be safe from sexual violence, no matter what sex you are.
Yet here I am one week after Gillian was found and barely able to find anyone in the media still talking about this. Instead we’re obsessed about women hating comments from a shock jock that really makes no apology for it.