Masa Vucovic, Jill Meagher and now Eurydice Dixon – three young women who lost their lives in Melbourne. Their headline names are known better than many other, equally innocent victims killed or brutalised for the same reason: they were women. They were daughters, sisters, partners of loving men, each unfortunate to have met their killers in a park, on the fitness run, or simply while strolling home.All were killed by human garbage, bipedal filth whose lusts knew no bounds. Their lives were extinguished for reasons which, to any decent man, are abhorrent, disgusting and inspire only contempt for their attackers. The sooner and the longer they are consigned to prison and left there to rot the better.
I do not wish to be unkind to Victoria Police, but the legacy of former chief commissioners who turned the force into a blue-uniformed social work department — guard dogs re-trained as comfort dogs — lingers like a fog to hide and obscure what should be every law enforcement agency’s primary mission to protect life and property. When push-in robberies see sporting goods stores sell out of baseball bats while senior police convene multiculturally photogenic community summits and burble of outreach to disaffected youths, the public isn’t getting the protection it is entitled to expect and the police force duty-bound to provide.
Not that senior police are alone in refusing to grasp the nettle of their chartered responsibility, for others are equally keen to push preferred barrows. When Jill Meagher was raped and butchered, Melbourne’s Sydney Road was packed with a protesting crowd, most of whose members would have turned out in the belief that such crimes must be stopped and that, unlike her murderer and serial rapist Adrian Ernest Bayley, their perpetrators must not be set free by the courts. What they attended turned out to be something very different — a denunciation of “victim blaming”, which no one had done, and a demand that “men”, all men, be reformed, not just the tiny minority of testosterone-infused monsters who make late-night parks unsafe.
These mass marches and their motherhood statements about reclaiming the night and the streets have no impact except for the psychotherapeutic relief they bestow on those who feel the need to be seen doing something, anything. To whom are their high-sounding words and demands directed? Doting fathers of little girls and loving brothers, normal men in other words? Those males of the species don’t rape or kill women and need no further encouragement not to do so. Is it criminals who are meant to pay heed? They couldn’t care less, which is why they are criminals in the first place.
Our politicians, up to and including the Prime Minister, mouth platitudes and inanities, in large part to cover their own deficiencies of leadership. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, for example, claims to want a changes in men’s behavior. How glad must he be that such an amorphous, generalised demand squeezes from the headlines any attention to the increasing lawlessness which has marked his stewardship of the state?
Were Mr Andrews serious there is something useful he could do: make legal non-lethal means of self-defense. We have to recognize reality and accord our women a chance of being able to protect themselves. This change of our laws will make sure that our girls are capable of resisting the violence, should the necessity arise. These might be Taser-type devices, pepper sprays, compact tear gas canisters or GPS-connected devices that alert police to hasten to the scene as a matter of the greatest urgency* (see editor’s note below). These devices, while by no means guaranteed to ward off an attack, will increase the chances of repulsing an attacker. Even if safety’s improvement is only minimal, it would still be an improvement.
Please, consider my proposal before recoiling in righteous horror at the notion that every individual deserves not only the right to defend themselves but also the means to do just that. Before you say Mace could be used as an offensive weapon, not just a defensive one, and that it should remain illegal, imagine your wife/daughter/sister being stalked and pounced upon as she walks home in the darkness of a Melbourne winter. Would you rather see her with no deterrent or protection at hand, or would the thought that she had a can of Mace in her handbag bring some comfort? If you are a normal father, son or husband the answer is a foregone conclusion.
Vicious attacks on women will not be vanquished by street marches, politicians’ moronic platitudes, speeches lamenting the “sexist conditioning” of boys, mounds of flowers and regular eruptions of public grief and outrage. Nor will taxpayer-funded TV ad campaigns attributing violence against women to fathers telling their sons not to “throw like a girl.” It is no universal guarantee of safety, but a criminal aware his potential victim might be packing something that will spoil his sick fun might stop such an attack, perhaps many attacks. This a realistic way to keep our women safe, unless we want them to be accompanied by a trusted male everywhere and at all times. If we are serious about the gender equality, we must be serious about the freedom of women to move about unmolested.
Please, Premier Andrews, give our women a chance to protect themselves. You can spout your guff about the better education of boys the next time you address a Labor women’s gathering. After that, with Mace in the pockets, your audience can head home with perhaps a greater sense of safety.
Editor’s note: Michael Galak is kidding himself if he believes Victoria Police would respond with alacrity to a handbag’s GPS alarm and tracker. Two years ago, late at night on the corner of Dynon and Kensington roads in Footscray, a green Hyundai, driven by what was most likely a drug-addled lunatic, missed a turn, bounced off the online editor’s bullbar and stove in the front-quarter panel of the adjacent car waiting beside his vehicle at the lights. The driver then did a U-turn against traffic, forcing another vehicle off the road and almost into tree. He sped off after that, but wouldn’t have gone far as a trail of water indicated a ruptured radiator.
It took almost five minutes before the triple-zero operator patched an emergency call through to North Melbourne police station, where a young constable advised that no divvy wagon would be dispatched to the scene as none were available. “No one’s hurt, right?, and nothing’s burning, eh?”
When the officer was advised that the fugitive driver must be somewhere relatively close at hand, given the state of his radiator, he responded that he was there to take details, not investigative advice, and that if the online editor expected his “help” he had better keep a civil tongue in his head.
Upon being asked if he was former VicPol Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon’s nephew, he hung up.
Such is policing in Victoria.