Dixon, Ms E.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:39): I rise today, just a week after a young woman, a comedian, walked home and was raped and murdered. This week I, many other members of this parliament and many people across this country stood at a vigil for Eurydice Dixon. We stood because we are sad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore. We are sick of seeing women raped and murdered, and we are sick of victims being blamed for being there. We know that Eurydice walked home after a comedy show late at night. We know that not long before another 21-year-old woman told police that she was grabbed by a man in a similar precinct at 2.38am.

We also know that this month an 11-year-old girl walking to school in Newcastle was abducted and, we believe, sexually assaulted on her way to school in broad daylight. What we know from social media is that all these people were blamed for being there. Questions were asked on Facebook of the young girl's parents why they let her walk to school alone at 9 o'clock in the morning. Questions were asked why a young adult woman was walking in a park at night.

The detective, Inspector Stamper, in responding to finding Ms Dixon's body, said, 'My message is that people need to be aware of their own personal security and just be mindful of their surroundings.' What we do know is that Eurydice was in fact very mindful of her surroundings. She had her phone out. She had texted a friend to say that she was almost home safe. She chose a path that she believed to be safe. Of course, you would have to think that there would be nothing safer in the world than an 11-year-old schoolgirl walking to school just after 9am.

This attitude of victim blaming is writ large in the experience in the UK where it has now been admitted that, with regard to the gang grooming that is rife in that country, a case review of those many hundreds of women and girls who were groomed, raped and assaulted has found that the police have been found to be culpable for blaming the victim. In fact, the review there found that the approach of persuading victims to change their behaviours had led to a consideration that sent unhelpful messages to the perpetrators, that they were unlikely to be prosecuted or prevented from continuing to abuse, encouraging an arrogant persistence.

Today I stand here because, like the many thousands of people at the vigils in Elder Park and Princes Park this week standing to mourn yet another death and yet another rape, we are sick of the victims being blamed and we are calling out those in leadership positions not to give us helpful advice that we already take. Women and girls already live their lives on guard. Women and girls already plan safe routes home, ensure that somebody knows where they are and live their lives in constant fear, in some cases, and quite rightly so in some cases, and they do not need police to tell them to protect themselves when in fact we have the right to be safe in our streets and in our homes.

We do not need questions raised of, 'Why didn't she leave him?', when a woman is murdered at the hands of one she knows. We know that that is the most dangerous time for a woman, when she actually leaves him, so those questions from our leaders need to stop and victim blaming needs to end. The idea of being careful is helpful advice when given in private, and it is advice that many of us take, but when it crosses over the line to victim blaming from the very people who are paid to protect us in this society, we need only look to the UK to see that that gives perpetrators permission to continue to rape and to kill. That is unacceptable and I hope that we see more leadership against that victim blaming culture and that rape culture, and that it finally ends in our society.

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