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“Can we please stop asking women to modify their behaviours in public spaces and start asking men to stop perpetrating violence against women?”

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We aren’t asking men to not be violent to women? Golly who knew???

Sure lots more needs to be done in the area but, in the meantime since no final solution to the problem has yet been achieved, to suggest sensible precautions on the part of women may not be such a bad idea. But pop your head up over the sex wars parapet and mention that and you’ll be shot down in flames to cries of ‘victim blaming’.

It is doing our young women a disservice to encourage them to believe that, just because you have a right to something, that right is guaranteed at all times and in all places. Violation of human rights is pretty damn common on the planet at the moment. Children are being ripped off their parents and incarcerated FFS. Refugees are being kept in indefinite detention, community water supplies are being polluted by big business with seeming impunity….

Gillian Meagher was offered an escort home on the night she was murdered, and refused it, understandably believing herself to be safe – she lived a short walk away – Melbourne is generally a safe and friendly city – why wouldn’t she feel okay to walk home alone at night? And wasn’t it her right?

In a mobile call just before she was attacked Eurydice Dixon indicated she was uneasy and would be relieved to get home, but tragically her right to walk home unafraid at night did not protect her.

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Being reminded of the possibility that even in an open friendly city like Melbourne the possibility of attack exists and being shown ways to avoid attack or protect oneself during an attack seems more useful than cries of “It is the attackers fault, you die blameless!”

Mobile phones give a false sense of security, they may record but, currently, do not protect. We need to be advising women how to properly protect themselves, not telling them ‘you shouldn’t have to’.

Of course they shouldn’t have to! But to treat women as if they have no responsibility to take precautions for their own safety, to decry the police for reminding women of the need to take care is to infantilise women, as if they are a special category whose rights should be guaranteed at all times and in all places without any effort or awareness on their part outside of screaming, two-year-old-style “I have my rights” over and over again on social media and attacking those who have the sometimes unenviable task of protecting those rights.

Male violence against women exists, it has done for a long time. As a society we are only beginning to address it’s causes and attempt meaningful remedies. In the meantime lets stop sacrificing ‘what is’ on the altar of the ‘what should’. And let’s stop shooting the messenger.

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