Content warning: this article discusses sexual assault and violence and may be distressing to some readers. If you are experiencing sexual abuse or other unwanted behaviour, please contact Full Stop Australia.
In the past few days, as the country has prepared for the holiday season ahead, incidents of women dying at the hands of men has reached fever pitch with a horrific eleven deaths in just three weeks reported.
On Sunday, December 18, 31-year-old Sydney teacher Danielle Finlay-Jones was found dead at a home in Cranebrook, NSW with severe head injuries. After a near 12-hour stand-off with the alleged offender, police arrested a 33-year-old man in connection to her death. The two had reportedly been seeing each other for a short while after meeting on a dating app.
Sadly, Finlay-Jones wasn’t the first woman to suffer a violent death that week.
Earlier that day, a 37-year-old woman was found killed in a unit in Albion Park, NSW. Police found her after responding to a call from a member of the public but the woman could not be revived. A 28-year-old man located in the building was charged with her murder.
Just a few days earlier on December 15, a 24-year-old woman from Perth was found unresponsive in a car park before being pronounced dead on the scene in Perth’s CBD. On the same day, 44-year-old April Gela was stabbed to death in Mundingburra, Queensland. A male relative has been charged with her murder.
29-year-old Queensland police service constable Rachel McCrow was fatally shot on December 12 along with her colleague, Mathew Arnold, 26 and civilian Alan Dare. The killers—Nathaniel Train, Gareth Train and Stacey Mary Train—were killed by police during the confrontation.
On December 5, 51-year-old mother of two Lynn Cannon was killed in Landsdale. Police have charged her former partner Paul Anthony for her murder after neighbours reported hearing screaming.
Just one day earlier in Western Australia, the body of 25-year-old Helen Jeremy Solomon was discovered in Success Boat Harbour in South Fremantle, Western Australia. A 21-year-old man has been charged with both murder of the mother-of-one and willfully destroying evidence, as well as interfering with a corpse.
The day before, on December 3, Nelomie Perera was allegedly stabbed to death by her former partner whom she had recently separated from.
In horrific news, Dianne Miller and her unborn baby died days after the 30-year-old was assaulted with a brick on December 2 in Perth’s Waterford Shopping Centre. A 17-year-old boy was charged with her murder.
On November 30, a 51-year-old woman was allegedly beaten to death by her partner in Northcote, Victoria. He has subsequently been charged with her murder.
While numbers like these confront us with the issue, violence against women has long been an epidemic in Australia. Remember, this is just what has occurred in the last three weeks. Over the last twelve months, 49 women have been killed in Australia—five of whom were killed in just one week in August. This surpasses the 43 that were killed last year, despite increased awareness.
According to official reports, one woman dies as a result of domestic violence every week in Australia. But with the constant replenishing of news and silence from the federal government, we’re hardly across the latest act of violence against women before the next loss.
Alarmingly, family and intimate partner violence is statistically more prevalent during the holiday period. As the ABC reported, the last five years has seen an average of 2,412 family violence offences recorded in the month of December—30% higher than the lowest point of the year around June.
And each year, it tends to climb higher.
While efforts have been made—at least on a state level—to curb domestic and intimate partner violence, for the most part, much remains the same, particularly when it comes to sentencing.
Just recently, many were left reeling when a UWA law student was handed a two-year suspended sentence after pleading guilty to a charge of sexual penetration without consent and a second charge of aggravated indecent assault.
“It says to the community [that] rape isn’t that serious… because people have this perception if it was serious he would have to go to prison,” Curtin University’s Professor of Social Work and Social Policy Donna Chung told the ABC.
“It actually can prevent and prohibit [and] make women doubt the importance of even being able to come forward and report it, because your life then becomes exposed, and there may be very little or no consequence for that person.”
If you or anyone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au