First published by The Hoopla, 19 February 2015
We are just seven weeks into 2015 and already 14 women have been violently murdered in Australia.
That’s two women every week – much higher than Tony Abbott acknowledged last month when he said: “Every week, one Australian woman dies as a result of domestic violence.”
The grim statistics are collected by the Counting Dead Women project, an initiative of the Destroy the Joint movement.
“We’ve seen increasing unemployment, and that puts strain on families. None of this is any excuse for abuse of women, but this may partly explain why it’s particularly happening at a higher rate now,” says Price.
Price also points to “repeated examples” where offenders, or alleged offenders, have been released on bail. “This might send a message to other men who might think they too can get away with their behaviour,” she says.
“When you see cases like that, perhaps it gives a perpetrator permission to think he can get away with it.”
The Counting Dead Women project collects and names every death of a woman by violence in Australia, including when the alleged killer is a woman (the vast majority of offenders are men – this year only one woman has been identified as an offender).
The figures are much worse than this time last year. The number of deaths should be ringing alarm bells across the country.
Says Price: “The violent deaths of women should be a signal to the community and the government that something is seriously wrong. But we know that the legal sector that supports women who have been victims of violence has been devastated by recent cuts, both at federal and state level, and more cuts are coming. Tony Abbott is blithely saying that he is going to concentrate on domestic violence, and he’s saying that to Rosie Batty. Yet at the same time he is making cuts to legal services where women go to get help.”
“What is the point of having a national intervention order register [announced last month by Abbott] when women can’t access it in the first place?”
“Right now the federal government is working against the safety of women by making those cuts,” she added.
Australian of the Year, Ms Batty, told the PM’s office this month her appointment was “meaningless” unless funding cuts were reversed: “It is a double standard, it is contradictory and totally undervaluing the part that these workers play in our front line services.”
Programs that aim to prevent men’s violence – such as Relationships Australia’s behavioural change initiative – have also lost funding.
The most recent death was that of Dr Ainur Isamgul (55). She was found dead this week when police arrived at a house in Adelaide’s north-east. Her 53-year-old husband was arrested at the scene.
She was a respected researcher on genetically modified crops.
The Counting Dead Women project is asking people to honour her memory by sharing their Facebook post about the project. They are also interested in hearing from anyone able to work on the project.
You can also remind the Prime Minister for Women, Tony Abbott, that good government begins with protecting the most vulnerable.