hannah Calrke and Brittany Higgins have been victims of make violence
hannah Calrke and Brittany Higgins have been victims of make violence

Call out the bullsh-t that allows violence to flourish

The anniversary of the horrific murders of Hannah Clarke and her three innocent children on a week in which allegations emerged of a workplace rape at Parliament House should make us all angry.

There has been important debate this week about the need for governments to do more to protect women and children.

 

The Sunday Mail and The Courier-Mail have been leading a campaign for five key changes to domestic violence laws and public policy that would save lives.

Hannah Clarke with her children (L-R) Trey, Laianah and Aaliyah.
Hannah Clarke with her children (L-R) Trey, Laianah and Aaliyah.

One of those planks is the need for education programs and campaigns, and in a week like the past one, we should all take a minute to think about our contributions to this. Because it's not a women's problem, it's a human problem.

It takes all of us to effect the kind of cultural change needed. It takes all of us not to look the other way. And we all need to challenge the bullsh-t.

Yes, it's important to talk to women about the red flags of domestic violence and disrespect and smash up the pathetic victim blaming rhetoric still in place so that women feel freer to speak.

But family violence doesn't exist because women won't leave relationships and rapes don't happen because women choose to put themselves in the "wrong situations".

That's bullsh-t. Those appalling behaviours exist because the perpetrators think they're justified in behaving like that.

If a woman leaves a DV relationship, they're often replaced by another.

Mothers know this only too well when they have to send their children back to visit abusive fathers who are now terrorising a new partner. How helpful is that cycle?

Lloyd and Sue Clarke at Hannah’s Place ahead of the anniversary of the deaths of Hannah, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey. (Pic: John Gass)
Lloyd and Sue Clarke at Hannah’s Place ahead of the anniversary of the deaths of Hannah, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey. (Pic: John Gass)

We need to empower girls who grow up to be empowered women, so they too can challenge the bullsh-t views held by others. Like the time my friend's mother blamed the victim of a rugby league rape in the news at the time, ascertaining she was likely dressed like a skank.

I still remember the anger pulsating through my teenage self when I told her just because women went out to have fun didn't mean they were asking for it. My mum taught me that.

We need to talk to boys in schools too, and more to men in broader society. We need them to challenge the bullsh-t when they see it being dished out by their friends.

Like the time a male colleague chastised another for asking me in the office: "Is that dress legal?" That meant so much more coming from a man and shut down that uncomfortable exchange right then and there.

And, of course, the media needs to challenge the bullsh-t.

Like when Network 10's Tegan George - a former member of the Queensland media gallery - called out Prime Minister Scott Morrison on his tired explanation of his "clarifying" moment amid this week's sickening Parliament House rape allegations by ex-staffer Brittany Higgins.

Brittany Higgins with Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Brittany Higgins with Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Apparently the terrible handling of the alleged rape of a staffer by her superior at her workplace only crystallised after he spoke to his wife and imagined what it might be like for his own daughters to be sexually assaulted.

"Jenny and I spoke last night, and she said to me, 'You have to think about this as a father first. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?'" Mr Morrison reflected.

In a question exposing the ridiculousness of the assertion - as if only the having of daughters and wives allows men to empathise - George asked: "Shouldn't you have thought about it as a human being? What happens if men don't have a wife and children, would they reach the same compassionate conclusion?"

Moves the Palaszczuk Government are making to change the consent/mistake of fact defense in rape trials are well overdue but welcome.

New legislation will strike down some of the bullsh-t excuses defendants are using to escape convictions, with the mistake of fact defense allowing those charged to argue they honestly believed they had consent, even if they didn't.

Attorney-General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Shannon Fentiman (left) with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at a press conference. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Attorney-General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Shannon Fentiman (left) with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at a press conference. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

It'll make it clear silence alone doesn't amount to consent, consent can be withdrawn at any time and the defendant's self-intoxication is not relevant to their actions.

Courts will also be able to take into consideration what the defendant did to establish consent.

And government moves to legislate against coercive control allows us all to think more about our own lives and loved ones. No one has the right to control your body, your mind, your cash, your friendships, your family relationships and your freedom. That is bullsh-t.

Jessica Marszalek is The Sunday Mail and The Courier-Mail State Political Editor

 

Originally published as Call out the bullsh-t that allows violence to flourish



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