There is not an Australian around who by now, does not know of Jill Meagher’s rape and murder last weekend in Melbourne. I was moved to tears today by the images today of thousands of strangers who have placed flowers and tributes for Jill at her last known whereabouts and wept alongside her husband, family and friends at the senseless loss of this beautiful life. Taken by a known and repeat sex offender who was released from prison over ten years ago.
I think what so many of us find so terribly distressing about this tragic event, is that it could so easily have been one of us. It has resonated with us all as our basic sense of freedom has been threatened. I myself, have walked home alone and after dark down Sydney Rd countless times. Just like Jill. I have always considered Melbourne ‘safe’ and the other revellers I encounter in the wee hours of the morning, nothing more than harmless benevolent drunks. I have never felt worried about making my own way home alone and wandered the streets without so much as a backward glance. Women everywhere will now be looking over our shoulders. Our innocence has been shattered and our basic rights, violated in the most unspeakable way.
I feel an overwhelming sadness and despair for Jill and what she must have gone through in the last moments before she died. Her dignity, right to life and bright future, destroyed. Why? What possesses another human being to do that to someone? I cannot fathom the type of evil that must exist inside a person to take another’s most precious gift away simply for their own gratification.
But also I am incredibly angry about this. I am angry that the accused is a repeat, convicted rapist. What was he even doing free on the streets?
I am angry that the police failed to take seriously numerous, prior attempts by this person, as reported by women in the area in the weeks leading up to Jill’s murder.
I am angry that publicly through the media, Jill herself has been blamed. She should have known better walking down that street alone. She was drunk and probably asking for it. Asking to be raped? I don’t think so. Asking to die? Not likely. This ‘victim blaming’ makes me mad because she was engaging in an activity she believed to be safe! Otherwise she wouldn’t have put herself in the situation in the first place.
I am angry that Jill has been robbed of her future. Her poor husband never to see her again. To never have the opportunity to be a mother.
I am angry that women everywhere, are subjected daily to varying degrees of unwanted attention and that it is rarely taken seriously.
I am angry that this will continue to happen. Everyday.
RIP Jill. I am so sorry for the unspeakable things that happened to you and that your life was taken because of this vile excuse of a human being. Your death has not been in vain – thousands will remember you and strive to make sure justice is served. May God hold you in his hand, safe from harm forevermore.