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Today more people are watching — watching you

By Ivy Jensen

WHAT is going on when 23 women and three children are killed by men in Australia in just 20 weeks?

What is happening when the most dangerous place to be is not a dark alley but in your own home?

What is going on when the person who claims to love you most in the world ends up killing you?

Something is seriously wrong. And now is the time we speak up and say what is causing this epidemic.

It’s not drugs or alcohol and it’s not a build up of stress or anger. It all comes down to a single fact: violence against women is driven by gender inequality. Basically, men’s power over women.

My involvement in the Our Watch inaugural Fellowship this year has opened my eyes to the single biggest issue in society today.

Four months ago, I was sceptical domestic violence could first be prevented and eventually eradicated from our way of life. Today, I know it can be. Yes, it will likely take a few generations, but it’s certainly possible.

So where do we begin? It’s simple really. It starts with respect.

A wolf whistle might seem "innocent" enough — especially to those doing it — but it is just another form of disrespect. And to a woman, it’s intimidating and degrading.

I’m not saying everyone who wolf whistles will become killers, but those types of primitive male peer relations that disrespect women emphasise aggression.

Put that together with condoning of violence against women, men controlling decision-making and limiting women’s independence and rigid stereotypes of masculinity and femininity and you have a melting pot of drivers that contribute to the abuse of females. How do I know? Because there are decades and volumes of research from around the world that point to this frightening fact. And I have been privileged enough to get just a small insight into this and how we as journalists have the power; no, the responsibility, to shed light on an insidious evil that filters into every aspect of our lives.

You just have to look at Rosie Batty to understand how tragic this scourge is. She did everything ‘‘right’’ and her son was still killed by her ex-partner. A power move that almost destroyed her. Instead, she fought back and campaigned against the very thing that tore her son from her and eventually helped establish the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Since then, the anti-domestic violence advocate has faced a tremendous amount of backlash — most recently from embattled union boss John Setka who, according to The Age, told a union meeting that men had fewer rights because of her work.

It’s hard to explain that sense of hopelessness to men; but read Grace’s story here and see the unseen damage from those ‘jokes’ and ‘no harm, no foul’ outbursts. Backing up verbal abuse with the physical imbalance between the sexes is, if you can be honest with yourself, just another form of ‘me Tarzan, you Jane’. In the 21st century. Seriously?

■If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800737732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au