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Australia’s gendered violence epidemic won’t stop until we learn to make space for women

I believe wholeheartedly the safety of women in every country is every person’s responsibility, including the prime minister’s. There is plenty of debate on who said what at the rally against gendered violence held in Canberra recently and frankly, every bit of oxygen used on that debate is taking away from the critically important conversation that the nation needs to have about women’s safety.

Tens of thousands of Australians gathered together in our nation’s capital to rally against the unaddressed epidemic of violence against women and to call out grave cultural flaws that have grossly failed the victims of murderous men.

TWENTY-EIGHT

That’s the number of reported deaths where women had their lives taken from them through alleged male violence in Australia in 2024, according to figures from Counting Dead Women Australia.

It’s only May.

TWENTY-EIGHT mothers, sisters, aunts, friends.

TWENTY-EIGHT women who will never have the privilege of another sunrise.

TWENTY-EIGHT women who need us to focus on the way forward but sadly, since the rally, politics has taken the focus away from those in need.

The rally was important and I firmly support it. And Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attended, but he completely missed the brief by asking the organizer to use her rally for his media opportunity.

The prime minister obviously thinks the issue is important, that’s why he showed up to the march, Miriam Sawan writes. Source: AAP

A prime minister at any rally would ordinarily be invited to speak and if they said anything, that would also be problematic. There would be critics on both sides.

It is the alleged disregard of organizer Sarah William’s request and the fear and intimidation she has created, reducing the organizer to tears, which are truly problematic.

A prime minister does not need to request a platform. He is given one on any day of the week at any time that he requests. The reduction of a woman’s voice at her own event speaks to the very issues that brought women to this protest.

Refusing to give women space to say, feel and to think freely is the issue. When women can’t even go for a Sunday morning jog without fear of being attacked — like Victorian woman Samantha Murphy was — that is the issue, and these issues start with cultures of men who don’t want to listen to our concerns.

It was truly problematic to see the PM reduce the organizer to tears. Source: AAP

I think the prime minister was well intentioned. By attending the rally he was showing his support for women. He has often spoken of his love de ella for his single mother de ella and I believe she’d be incredibly proud of the heights he has reached.

I have mixed feelings about Anthony Albanese but I do believe he loved his mother and wouldn’t want the women in his life to feel unsafe but by creating an environment of fear, by intimidating a woman at a women’s rally, his actions spoke louder than his words.

Maybe his actions simply demonstrate his privilege but they also speak to his disregard of the central issue at this rally, women’s wishes must be respected.

Miriam Sawan (pictured) writes that public debate since the rally is focusing on the wrong thing. Source: Supplied

If I was confronted by a man in a position of power who publicly asked me to speak, the “nice girl” in me, the people-pleaser, who most women are trained to be, would be inclined to say yes, even if it It wasn’t what I wanted, even if there was no plan for it.

Most women are raised to make space for those around them. Not all men have been raised with that same consideration.

When I think of how this should have been handled, my first thought is that the most respectful thing to do, would be for a man to wait to be asked to speak, giving all power to the person who invited him to make the calls on the agenda at its own event.

Since the rally, Williams still says she has not been approached by Albanese’s government to discuss a way forward for women, which makes the Prime Minister’s attendance at the rally seem a little disingenuous.

If you want to help women, listen to them and create holistic plans to protect them when they report abuse.

At the start of his term in leadership, Anthony Albanese introduced 10 days of Domestic Violence leave, a step in the right direction but it doesn’t do anything to educate the dozens of men perpetrating this violence.

It also potentially creates an opportunity where a victim is isolated for a perpetrator’s next attack.

Everyone should be outraged by the situation with gendered violence in Australia, Miriam Sawan says. Source: AAP

The systems we already have in place to support women in domestic violence situations simply don’t seem to be working. We need to do more to help women and it starts with listening to them. Too often women’s complaints to police don’t seem to be taken seriously enough, quickly enough.

Police need to understand the Herculean bravery it takes women in these situations to even report these crimes.

If you want to help women feel safe, educate men on the importance of giving women space to exist.

If you want to model a culture of respect, respect a woman’s wishes.

Let her “yes” mean yes, and accept that her “no” means “no.”

The power imbalance is clear.

Even as a woman, aware of the gender biases in this country, I too have asked men to “let” women exist, as if the opportunity to grant such freedom remains in the hands of men.

That is already an injustice, but it is also our reality, or the 28 women who have died at the hands of men in 2024 in Australia, would still be alive.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.

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