Sunday , May 19 2024

An attack on women that has devastated Australia


SYDNEY: It seems like all of Australia can see themselves in the victims of Saturday’s stabbing rampage at a crowded shopping centre in Bondi Junction.

There was a new mother stealing a moment for herself. A refugee security guard only a week into his new job. The daughter of a millionaire excitedly wedding planning. An international student seeking retail therapy after exams. Parents who never went home to their kids.

The attack, in a nation where mass murder is so rare has stunned the world and raised uncomfortable questions for Australia.

“I mean, terrible things happen all the time,” Anita, 33, tells media as she is leaving flowers at an ever-growing memorial but “the fact that it happened here where you least expect it, in such a heinous way definitely hits home.”

Within moments of entering the centre on Saturday afternoon, Joel Cauchi selected his first victim, a woman and stabbed her with a large knife, reportedly from behind.

Over the next 20 or so minutes, police are yet to reveal exactly how long Cauchi roamed around three levels of the palatial shopping centre, sending scores of people running in terror.

Videos captured by frightened shoppers show him chasing or lunging towards several men, but ultimately leaving them alone.

Meanwhile, the pile of bleeding women he left in his wake grew and grew.

There were three outside a Country Road store. Two on the ground inside Chanel. Another couple near Cotton On.

All up, 14 of the 17 people he stabbed were female including five of the six people who were killed, and a nine-month-old baby.

Mary who asked us not use her last name to protect her family’s privacy was one of the many women who sheltered in a store, horrified, as Cauchi prowled outside.

On the other side of the glass, he walked right past her, his right hand clutching a hunting blade and swinging it at his side.

As terrified customers locked inside shops saw their phones light up with frantic messages, Mary soon heard about one woman being stabbed, then another, and then another. The penny dropped.

“I thought, ‘He’s going after women’.”

By Monday morning, police too said it was “obvious”.

“The videos speak for themselves, don’t they?” Commissioner Karen Webb said.

“The offender focused on women and avoided the men” but as stories of horror leaked out of the centre, so did tales of heroism.

The French tradesman, now dubbed Bollard Man who tried to stop Cauchi’s carnage. Security guard Faraz Tahir who was stabbed alongside a colleague and died “trying to save others”.

Poignantly, many of the heroes of Saturday were women too.

There was Ashlee Good, spending her last moments desperately trying to get help for her baby. Good died in hospital on Saturday night, as her child was rushed to surgery.

Huma Hussainy in graphic detail told media that she saw a lady defiantly remain by the side of two young women who were bleeding out despite the attacker being metres away.

People like Mary say the quick-thinking of retail staff, largely women saved many. They alerted shoppers passing by, herded them into stores and locked the doors and there was, of course, the lone officer who chased down Cauchi and, when he turned on her, shot him. Coolly removing the knife from his grip, she then tried to save his life. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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