Yesterday, a petition was unfurled outside of Federal Parliament. This was no ordinary petition, rather, it was a harrowing tribute to the women and children who have lost their lives to gender-based violence since 2008. It was 30-metres long. 30-metres of innocent names who have been taken from this earth at the hands of a man. If you are shuddering while you read this, it has had its intended effect.
Created by Narrm/Melbourne based artist, Dans Bain, the project is as much personal as it is political. As Bain raises a young girl, she sees the impact of misogyny and gender-inequality at play on a daily basis. She feared for the kind of world in which her daughter, and young women everywhere, are forced to grow up in — and she wanted to make a change.
The emotionally-charged fabric artwork contains 978 names which have been pulled from research conducted by award-winning journalist and anti-violence advocate Sherele Moody of The RED HEART Campaign and the Australian Femicide and Child Death Map. Bain chose to write each name by hand to reflect the individuality of each person listed, adding a personal, emotional element to the project.
In an interview with Broad Agenda, Bain explained her reasoning for presenting the petition outside Federal Parliament at this particular moment in time.
“I am taking The Lost Petition to Parliament House the day before Budget Day because I want to see an adequate response to the issue of gendered violence in Australia not only reflected in this budget, but for all parties to signal their commitment and responsive policies to this issue in the upcoming election.” she said.
As Bain went on to elaborate, she reminded us that these women and children are no longer able to vote or have their voices heard by Government, but this petition puts these victims at the forefront of Parliament, right outside the door where their presence cannot be ignored.
To honour these names is to honour not only their memory, but the harrowing truth of a crisis Australia continues to face. Gender-based violence is an epidemic, and until we acknowledge the severity of the situation and conduct real, honest efforts to change it, we will be continuing to add names to this list at an alarming rate.
This year alone, 14 women have already lost their lives at the hand of men, and we’re not even at the end of March. According to Sherele Moody, police are responding to over 700 incidents of domestic violence per day across the country. The facts speak for themselves. We are living in a time where women simply are not safe at home, at work and even in the most secure buildings in the nation. Something has got to give, and as spectators walk the full length of the 30-metre long petition, taking the time for each victim’s name to sink in, it becomes clear that we have no other option but to keep fighting. We must fight for those who are already gone, for those who are still here and for those who are yet to come.
Enough is enough.