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Let's make space for the stories of all women

June 20 2018 By Khadija Gbla

Thousands of people gathered in Melbourne this week to remember 22-year-old Eurydice Dixon, who was senselessly slain by a male perpetrator.

Eurydice Dixon and Qi Yu Image

Men, women, families and couples, both young and old - most of whom Eurydice had never met - assembled to mourn a young life cut short and to oppose violence against women in our communities.

While the wound is still fresh, we’re left asking how this could have happened? And what we can do to make sure another woman doesn’t face the same fate?

While Eurydice Dixon has become the very public face of the issue, the sad truth is that her murder is just the tip of the iceberg.

Just last week, a 28-year-old Sydney woman Qi Yu was allegedly killed by her 19-year-old male housemate, Shuo Dong.

Although just as shocking, Qi Yu’s murder received far less media attention and subsequently a more contained public response.

There is space for us to grieve both Eurydice Dixon and Qi Yu. There is also room in the national conversation to talk about how we as a society can prevent what happened to these young women from ever happening again.

While violence against women is now recognised as a serious and widespread problem in Australia – to prevent it, we must first better understand the issue. Although Ms Dixon’s murder was at the hands of stranger in a public space, statistically violence against women is most likely to perpetrated by an intimate partner in the home.

We also need to acknowledge that not all women experience the impacts of gender inequality or violence in the same way. Women from different backgrounds, races, religions, classes and sexual orientations can sometimes experience multiple layers of oppression depending on the context.

Women and girls from minority groups are more likely to be vulnerable to abuse and experience domestic violence. The evidence shows that women with disabilities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience violence at considerably higher rates than able-bodied or non-Indigenous women.

The stories behind those statistics alone should ignite public outrage and demand action.

Too often the conversation around violence against women of colour and women from marginalised groups is sidelined. They continue to receive a fraction of the media coverage and public indignation they deserve.

All lives matter and all should be treated equally.

I don’t say any of this to take away from the unfathomable tragedy that has befallen Eurydice Dixon. One life lost, is of course, one life too many. We need to draw something from the tragedy of violence against all women and look at the heart of the problem.

We need to examine why 95 per cent of all victims of violence in Australia — whether women or men — experience violence from a male perpetrator.

We also need to bring to light the drivers of men’s violence, the subtle and overt attitudes and behaviours that contribute to a culture where violence against women is allowed to exist.

And we must, make sure we are protecting and amplifying the voices of the most vulnerable women among us.

This piece was originally published in on SBS Life.