Eurydice Dixon – a name on our lips, and for all the wrong reasons.
Eurydice Dixon is a name none of us should know, but it’s on all our lips, and for all the wrong reasons. In happier circumstances, we might have been lauding her praises sometime in the near future, after a fun night out with friends, over a glass of wine. Sadly, that will never be.
The shocking truth is that this young woman is another victim of a violent and horrific crime. Like her mythological namesake, Eurydice’s life was cut too short, and she will never return from the Underworld for an encore performance.
Her death has stunned and saddened our family. No, not just saddened, but disheartened and drained, for this is an epic problem of mammoth proportions. What self-respecting, rational person can’t help but think ‘What hope is there?’.
Every so often in Melbourne, a woman is found murdered in mysterious or grizzly circumstances, horrifying the residents of our city, who throw a prayer to their God that it wasn’t their daughter. Or worse… show disdain, or judgement, or even indifference because it will never be their daughter.
Let’s think about that for a moment… While we teach our girls to be safe (whatever that means), we also acknowledge that to function normally in this world, people need to be independent, social and connected. That means they have to go places. Sometimes at night and sometimes alone. Because sometimes, it’s inevitable. So, we do it because it’s a basic right in this country to be able to go from A to B, where and when we choose. Eurydice’s death is so shocking because the truth is, she could have been any of our daughters.
I’ve singled out young women here because that’s the topic in question, but of course I’m implicitly referring to all women.
Some sobering statistics from ourwatch.org.au:
• Eight out of ten women aged 18 to 24 have reported being harassed on the street in the past year.
• On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner.
• One in three Australian women has experienced physical violence, since the age of 15.
• One in five Australian women has experienced sexual violence.
• One in four Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner.
• Of those women who experience violence, more than half have children in their care.
• Violence against women is not limited to the home or intimate relationships. Every year in Australia, over 300,000 women experience violence – often sexual violence – from someone other than a partner.
• 31 women have been murdered so far this year in Australia, all but 3 by men.
These statistics relate only to physical violence. Emotional abuse is under reported and far more difficult to measure.
There has been a lot of back lash on social media against victim blaming, and statements made by police regarding the personal safety of women reflecting the community and society’s broader view. Thus, prompting the Premier, Daniel Andrews to get on board. Whilst I have very little faith in the rhetoric of politicians, there’s no denying something needs to be done to shift the focus from the victims onto the perpetrators.
This is not a man-bashing piece. We all know men who are sensitive, caring and sympathetic to the cause. Any sane person would be. However, any education revolving around the mitigation and eventual eradication of this type of abuse and any pressure against violence by men can be even more effective when exerted by other men.
The current TV campaigns are a start, but really just a drop in the ocean compared to what’s required to change pervasive cultural attitudes. Absolutely, teach your sons to be respectful towards women, to show decency, care and understanding and to be aware of the subliminal and sinister attitudes endemic in our society. However, I fear it’s the damaged individuals who are the worst offenders. And by damaged, I mean men who have been exposed to abusive role models and perpetuate the cycle through ignorance and stupidity, and a general disregard for a women’s value. Severe mental illness aside, these individuals pose the biggest threat to our daughters, sisters, nieces, wives and friends.
By now we all know the sticking point: not that women should be careful, but that men shouldn’t attack women.
Eurydice was walking home from a comedy gig.
She was somebody’s daughter, sister, partner, granddaughter.
She was my daughter’s friend.
RIP Eurydice Dixon.
*A vigil for Eurydice will be held this Monday 18th June, 5.30-7.30pm at Princes Park. All are welcome.