Police warning after woman was murdered sparks furious backlash
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, a body was found in Carlton North park, in Melbourne, Australia. A passer-by spotted the corpse just before 3am, which was later identified as comedian Eurydice Dixon. The 22-year-old had been raped and murdered before she was discovered on a football pitch, BuzzFeed reports.
That night, Dixon had been performing a set at the Highlander Bar until 10:30pm, before being attacked on her way home. It was reported that, when she was just a few hundred metres from home, Dixon sent a message to a friend that read, "I'm almost home safe, HBU".
The Highlander Bar later posted a statement in response to what happened. Their Facebook status read:
"We are deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic news of the death of Eurydice Dixon. She was a remarkable, talented, kind, unique and universally loved person and the entire staff are shattered and heartbroken.
"Our heart goes out to her family, the comedy community and everyone else who knew and loved her. She will be remembered fondly and sadly missed. RIP Eurydice."
Soon after photos of the suspect were made public, a 19-year-old man turned himself over to the police, and was charged with one count of rape and one count of murder. In a press conference on Thursday, detective inspector Andrew Stamper said that the victim had no relation to the accused, nor any other similar crimes in the area. He is set to face the court in October.
Since the incident, Melbourne police have been warning residents to "take responsibility for their safety," according to Australian news outlet The Age. "My message is that people need to be aware of their own personal security, and be mindful of their surroundings," Stamper said at the aforementioned press conference. "We would rather have too many calls than too few."
Superintendent David Clayton told reporters that because the park was an area of "high community activity," women need to be aware of what's around them. "So just make sure you have situational awareness, that you’re aware of your surroundings," Clayton said. "If you’ve got a mobile phone carry it and if you’ve got any concerns, call police."
However, many have found this advice to be insulting, even if there were good intentions. One woman wrote that "We DO have our phones charged and ready. We DO have our fists clenched. We DO anticipate the worst and it is TIRING," while others were frustrated that the statements made by the superintendent put the blame and responsibility on the victims of the crime.
Victoria Premier, Daniel Andrews, has been vocal about violence against women since before he was elected in 2014. In a Facebook post, he addressed these recent statements made about Dixon's death:
"She had a phone. She was using it. She was keeping an eye on her surroundings. Looking out for herself. Being responsible. Doing everything we expect. But Eurydice did not make it home safe.
"We’ll keep asking ‘Why was she alone in the dark?’ instead of asking ‘Why was he?’. We’ll keep ignoring the real problem, instead of actually fixing it. So our message to Victorian women is this: Stay home. Or don’t.
"Go out with friends at night. Or don’t. Go about your day exactly as you intend, on your terms. Because women don’t need to change their behaviour. Men do."