The statistics are appalling: one woman is hospitalised every three hours, and at least one woman is murdered each week. At the time of writing, 43 women had been killed by violence this year.
The cause is domestic violence, or more accurately, male domestic violence. In fact, it is crucial to recognise that the violence is male, because the problem is, without doubt, a gendered one. Up until the late 19th century women were literally the property of their husbands. Jess Hill, writing for The Monthly, suggests that controlling male behaviour is “the modern legacy of this history”.
Indeed, domestic violence is about men wanting to control women, in whatever way possible. The statistics above, ghastly as they are, do not capture the emotional isolation and financial bullying that many, many women are daily subjected to. Violence is what happens when other forms of control aren’t working. The hospitalisations and murders are the extreme examples of a much, much larger problem.
In what has been termed a ‘crisis’, some political leadership wouldn’t go astray. But since 2013 nearly $300 million has been cut from women’s services, including services that assist fleeing domestic violence sufferers.
More important than political change, however, is social change. If a critical mass of people began to challenge the sexist ‘horseplay’ of friends, then that culture would quickly be uprooted. Indeed, Tasmanian police commissioner Darren Hine, speaking to Guardian Australia, stated: “We are all responsible for shifting social norms that blame, excuse, minimise and justify violence against women and their children. Addressing the issue is going to require lasting generational change. Lead by example. Challenge others. Own the change.”
Image credit goes to Destroy the Joint, who are undertaking the grisly but vital task of documenting the murders of women.