Killings reflect many women’s horrible reality
Twenty women have been killed this year around the country at the hands of men.
That's 20 mothers, sisters and daughters who should have been safe, but weren't.
There's a horrible sameness to their tragic stories.
Many died in their own homes, where they should have been safe.
Many of those arrested for their murders are men whom they once loved and trusted.
Today, our city is grieving once more.
This time, it's for Courtney Herron, a young Melbourne woman bashed to death in a city park.
It's an attack that even hardened police officers are calling an extreme level of violence.
A 27-year-old man has been arrested for Ms Herron's murder.
Her body was dumped next to a pile of logs, callously discarded by the killer less than 2km from where the body of another woman, Eurydice Dixon, was found last year.
How many more women have to die or be assaulted by men before the violence stops?
Ms Herron is believed to have been couch surfing and sleeping rough, and struggled with drugs and mental illness in the past few years.
She's one of the 42 per cent of homeless people in this country who are women - many without a home because of family violence.
Ms Herron is not thought to have been sexually assaulted, but research from Juliet Watson, of RMIT University, suggests homelessness further exposes women to violence, often based on the assumption they're willing to exchange sex for a home.
The federal government's Women, Domestic and Family Violence and Homelessness Report shows one in six adult women have experienced actual or threatened physical or sexual violence from a partner since they were 15.
Over a lifetime, one in three women receive actual or threats of physical, psychological or sexual violence from a current or former partner.
The women's deaths are the horrific endpoint of a continuum of violence that starts with catcalls on the street and ends with women being bludgeoned to death by men they know. Drug and alcohol use and mental illness can exacerbate violent situations and there's a clear link between those issues and family violence.
A new report pinpoints the problem: a subset of young men don't see women as equals.
They think they have the right to control, dominate and abuse the women they are intimate with. That is frightening.
The National Community Attitudes Towards Violence against Women Survey, which was released last week, shows nearly one in three young men don't believe women who say they've been raped.
Nearly half think sexual assault allegations are often made to punish men, when, in fact, false claims account for between 2 and 10 per cent of rape claims.
Much more of a problem is under-reporting by 80 per cent of sexual assault victims.
The survey released last week also shows one in five men aged 16 to 24 think a woman is to blame when she makes a man so angry he hits her when he didn't mean to.
One in six thinks domestic violence is just "a normal reaction to day-to-day stress and frustration".
As I wrote for a piece online last week marking the release of the report, this is a generation learning about sexual norms from pornography - 88 per cent of which shows violence towards women by men.
The survey shows young men aged 16 to 24 are willing to accept gender inequality in their private lives, although they tend to question it more in public.
Two in five think it's natural for a man to be in control of his partner in front of his friends. One in five also believes a man should take control of relationships.
SUCH attitudes, which reflect a fundamental gap in gender equality, are widely accepted as a key precursor to violence against women.
These findings are mirrored by many other surveys, such as one by NSW's The Line, which found one in four 12-to-24-year-olds think it is acceptable for men to pressure women into sex.
We live in a time when women continue to die at the hands of men.
Last year, 69 Australian women died in that way, according to the Counting Dead Women researchers at Destroy the Joint.
Another woman losing her life in such a brutal way should be a rallying call for all of us. More should be done to stop family violence, relationship breakdown and child sex abuse. More must be done to protect and house women and their children who are homeless.
Those with mental illnesses who have substance abuse issues need more help, too.
And more must be done to challenge gender inequality and sexism in all forms.
If you or someone you know is affected by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call triple-0.
NEW SOUTH WALES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
QUEENSLAND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
Susie O'Brien is a Herald Sun columnist