Eurydice Dixon, a twenty-two year old Australian comedian, was found dead in Princes Park, Melbourne on June 13th.
Dixon was described as reserved, but still a bright enough personality to command a crowd. Her upbringing was far from easy; her mother, a heroin addict, died when she was seven, but this did not hinder her from drawing a crowd. Her dark, witty, self-deprecating, and often feminist jokes had regulars coming to the Highlander bar where she often performed, just to see her. She was a rising star in many people’s eyes.
In the early hours of June 13th, Dixon’s body was found by authorities in Princes Park where she took a shortcut on her way home from a comedy gig. She was only a few hundred meters from her home when she was raped, killed, and dumped in the middle of the soccer field.
Just before the incident, she had sent a text to her boyfriend that read: “I’m almost home safe.”
Dixon’s rape and murder has sparked outrage and sadness, especially following some controversial comments made by a senior police officer David Clayton who said that people need to “take responsibility for [their] safety.”
“Make sure you have situational awareness, that you’re aware of your surroundings,” he said during a press briefing. “If you’ve got a mobile phone, carry it; if you’ve got any concerns, call the police.”
While the advice was sound, many women say that this is the wrong conversation to have. Dixon often walked that route home. She was aware of her surroundings, and she had her mobile phone.
Instead, the focus should be on teaching men and boys the proper behavior and respect to have toward women.
Victorian women’s affairs minister Natalie Hutchins said Australia is enduring a “gendered violence crisis” as thirty women have already been murdered in the nation in 2018.
“[Eurydice] was denied her right to get home safely, she was denied her right to life,” she told parliament on Tuesday.
More than 80 percent of perpetrators of murders and other violent crimes are men. Dixon’s death has intensified an already fiery debate about women’s rights to safety.
“It isn’t up to women to modify our behaviour in order to prevent violence from being enacted against us,” wrote prominent feminist Clementine Ford. “It’s up to society to work together to dismantle misogyny and the particular kind of male rage that informs these acts of aggression.”
Rape and murder might be the extreme end, Ford writes, “but the spectrum they sit on stretches right back to ‘harmless’ casual sexism, the rape ‘jokes’ and threats that proliferate online and the attitude expressed towards women on a daily basis by groups of men who’ve been socialised to view themselves as superior. These toxic behaviours don’t manifest one day out of nowhere. They are cultivated.”
Nineteen year old Jaymes Todd turned himself in for the rape and murder of Dixon and appeared in court, where he reportedly kept his eyes down for most of it.
Victoria Legal Aid lawyer John Riordan said it was Todd’s first time in custody and stressed his vulnerability in that environment due to his youth and his diagnosis on the autism spectrum disorder.
Furthering the horrendous actions against Dixon, a 31-year-old man was arrested and charged with criminal damage, offensive behaviour, and making offensive graffiti, Victoria Police said in a statement, after reportedly spray painting a phallic image and what was referred to as “lewd” remarks near a memorial created for Dixon.
This blatant and disrespectful behavior makes it clear that severe changes need to made.
One in five women over the age of 15 has experienced some form of sexual violence in Australia, compared to one in 20 men, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The Australian Human Rights Commission says the country has a “disturbingly high rate of violence against women.”
In this time of grief, many are hopeful that through the loss of Dixon, true and lasting change can be made in regards to the safety and well-being of women in both Australia and across the globe.
As Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, “what we must do as we grieve is ensure that we change the hearts of men to respect women.”
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