Saturday , June 22 2024

Australians protest against spate of killings of women


CANBERRA: Rallies have taken place across Australia in response to a wave of recent violence against women.

Demonstrators want gender-based violence to be declared a national emergency and stricter laws put in place to stop it.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the issue was a national crisis.

In Australia, a woman has been killed on average every four days so far this year.

Organizer Martina Ferrara said: “We want alternative reporting options for victim survivors to let them own their stories and own their healing and reporting journey.

“And we want the government to acknowledge this is an emergency action and take immediate action.”

Speaking at a march in the capital Canberra attended by thousands of protesters, Albanese admitted the government at all levels needed to do better.

“We need to change culture, the attitudes, the legal system and the approach by all governments,” he said.

“We need to make sure that this isn’t up to women, it’s up to men to change men’s behavior as well,” he added.

Responding to calls by protestors for violence against women to be classified as a national emergency, Albanese said the classification was normally used during floods or bushfires to release a temporary injection of cash.

“We don’t need one month or two months, we need to address this in a serious way, week by week, month by month, year by year,” he said.

His comments were met with mixture of heckles and cheers but Australia’s federal attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has rejected holding a royal commission into gender-based violence.

Albanese has repeatedly called gender-based violence an epidemic but it’s not new: in 2021, marches took place across the country over allegations of sexual misconduct within the government.

Recent killings have put the issue back in the spotlight.

Earlier this month, a man stabbed six people to death in a Sydney shopping centre. Five of the victims were women and the police are looking at whether they were the target.

In all, 27 women have been killed in the first 119 days of 2024, according to data compiled by the campaign group destroy the Joint.

A week on from the attack, Australia is trying to stir itself back into a sense of normalcy.

On Thursday, the Westfield reopened for what it called a community reflection day.

An overwhelmingly female crowd, many with black ribbons pinned to their clothes flowed in and out of the eerily silent mall.

It was quiet enough that you could hear a handful of people crying, above the somehow blaring whirr of the escalators.

In the window of the Chanel store were two bright bunches of flowers, and a card addressed to “Dawnie”.

Upstairs, lines of people queued to sign a condolence book, grasping bouquets in one hand and their loved ones in the other.

Outside, many are clearly still processing what has happened and the emotions it has stirred up.

“Every day you feel something different, or you think of something different,” Ruth Mascarenhas, herself a new mum, says. (Int’l News Desk)

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