‘Change is coming’

“MEN are afraid that women will laugh at them, women are afraid that men will kill them.”

This Margaret Atwood quote has been repeated like an anthem of solidarity by women across the country following the murder of 22-year-old comedian Eurydice Dixon in Melbourne last week.

Ms Dixon was walking home through Princes Park after a successful stand-up gig when she was raped and murdered, with 19-year-old Jaymes Todd turning himself into police the following day.

Hundreds gathered in Hyde Park on Monday night for a vigil memorial, coinciding with services Australia-wide, to “remember Eurydice and other women killed whilst going about their everyday lives.”

Event organiser Evangeline Douglas says many women feel too afraid to walk through Hyde Park alone.

• Crowds gathered at Hyde Park, and across the country, to remember Eurydice Dixon and reclaim spaces women feel they cannot walk after dark. Photos by David Bell

Fear

“Hyde Park is our Princes Park, it’s the place women avoid at night for fear of what did happen to Eurydice and it was chosen for that reason.”

Ms Douglas says the police response to Ms Dixon’s death is rhetoric we’ve all heard before.

“I think all women do recognise that it is our responsibility to look after our safety, but there’s great disparity between what those reasonable safety measures are considered to be for a man and a woman.

“Women have to go above and beyond reasonable expectations and that’s what makes us all so frustrated.

“I am more than willing to take responsibility of my safety just as much as any man my age.”

Perth Greens candidate Caroline Perks addressed vigil attendees, asking “what more do we have to do to be safe?”

“Women shouldn’t feel afraid to walk our streets. Women shouldn’t have to change our behaviours and still live in fear for their lives. Maybe it’s time the focus changed.

Safe

“What more can the greater collective do to keep us safe? What more can governments do? What can policy-makers do? What more can men do?”

Fremantle musician Stella Donnelly, backed by a female choir, sang Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

She says the police’s response to Ms Dixon’s death was disappointing.

“I think a police officer telling people to have more situational awareness and take responsibility for their own safety is just such a different rhetoric for what you hear when there is a one punch attack on a Sydney street from a man to a man.

“I don’t understand how the responsibility can be placed back on these women when they are walking home,” she says.

Twenty eight women have been murdered by men in the last 24 weeks in Australia, according to The Red Heart Campaign, and Ms Donnelly says the argument “it’s not all men” has to stop.

Both women said they were heartened by the number of males attending the memorial.

“One of the first men who rocked up was a tradie who finished work and came straight to the park and handed in a candle, that was quite special,” Ms Douglas says.

She told the Voice she walked through Hyde Park at night for the first time after the vigil.

“As tragic and awful as what happened to Eurydice was, seeing 1500 people light up Princes Park and 400 people light up Hyde Park, along with vigils in Albany, Hobart and in Launceston; it shows that we share the same fears and frustrations but we are not defeated by it.”

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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