Content Warning: violence against women, murder
This week a woman, Michaela Dunn, was murdered whilst at work and another woman was stabbed by the same man. We send our deepest sympathy to the family of Michaela and the family and friends of all those impacted by Tuesday’s events. Michaela is not and shouldn’t be defined by her work. She was a valued family and community member who had a future ahead of her, with hopes and dreams for herself. We need to do better to put an end to the epidemic levels of violence against women in this country. On average, one woman a week is killed by an intimate partner.
The extent and severity of violence against women and their children has become so commonplace that this week a discussion of milk crates and national gun regulation has been dominating headlines and conversations, instead of recognising the murder of another woman, Michaela Dunn. The lives, hopes, dreams, personalities and quirks of each woman killed or hurt are ignored. Everyone deserves to be safe at work.
Sex work, being an incredibly gendered form of labour, means that women working in that field are more likely to be targeted by men who have violent and misogynistic behaviours. The laws surrounding sex work in Australia vary in levels of criminalisation from state to state. Queensland’s current laws mean that sex workers who don’t work in licensed brothels – those who operate privately or are street-based – are forced to work outside the law and are regulated by the police. They are criminalised to the point where they aren’t empowered to disclose their experiences of violence nor do they have the autonomy to be in control of their personal safety.
We know that men’s violence is at epidemic levels across the country and that women are more likely to experience domestic and family violence at the hands of a man. Addressing violence against women needs to start with behaviour change. We need to hold men accountable for their behaviour and dismantle structures which put women at risk of men’s violence. Preventing men’s violence and ensuring the decriminalisation of sex work go hand in hand. We need to see serious discussions move into action and structural change. Be it at home, on the street or at work, no woman deserves to have her life cut short.