* trigger warning of male violence and homicide
It is with a mix of rage and grief that I sit here to write about this, again. Yesterday in Brisbane, Australia a husband and father murdered his wife and children by dousing them in petrol and burning them all alive in their car. This monster chose to horrifically murder 3-year-old Trey, 4 -year-old Laianah, 6 year-old Aaliyah and 31 year-old Hannah. They were his family.
We are only in the 7th week of this year and yet already, 8 women and children have been murdered by the men in their life. The most dangerous place for a woman to be in Australia is in a relationship with a man. This is a notoriously horrid statistic and indicates a national epidemic of male violence against women and children. It is also misnamed and misreported in both the commercial and public media.
The following are the headlines of this event:
• “Brisbane Car Fire” – The Australian, The Guardian, news.com
• “Children dead in Brisbane car fire: NRL star Rowan Baxter, New Zealand Warriors” – Fox sports news
• “Car Fire Killings” – ABC
• “Family Violence” – ABC
Murdoch’s Fox sports news has stooped to an ever-lower low by naming him and calling him a ‘star’. And, as I am writing this, Channel 7 midday news has just said that after the break they will return live to the Brisbane memorial site of the “car fire tragedy”.
The word murder does not appear in any of the headlines. In fact, the word killing only appears in one. By reading these headlines, we are led to believe that it was an accident, a malfunction of some sort, a car fire and not a premeditated and planned act of a madman against the woman and three children he supposedly loved.
This is sickening. I am sickened by these men continuing to perpetrate these murders while leaving a long and lengthy pattern of bad behaviour preceding their final act of violence. This man was called a ‘control freak’. He kidnapped one of his daughters for 4 days last year until police returned her to her family. His in-laws had sold everything to protect their daughter and grandchildren from him. He already had a prevention order against him. None of this mattered. He murdered them all anyway. Why? Because there was nothing to stop him.
The police, a ‘brotherhood’, have been notoriously ineffectual at stopping male violence against women. The legal system, a ‘boys club’, has been historically created by men for men’s protection. The government, dominated by men, feel no pressure to change any legislation which is not directly affecting them.
This man had a history of bad behaviour, which is why his family were in hiding from him. Yet, he was allowed to continue his life as a free man while his family were terrorised and lived in fear. Why? Because nothing is in place to stop him.
This needs to change. Men need to take responsibility for their behaviour, be held accountable for their actions and be punished suitably for their crimes.
• Men like this need mandatory re-education and training while under full or house arrest.
• An issue of an AVO includes an ankle cuff with gps tracking which is linked to police and the victims’ communication devices so they can be monitored and the police and the victims are aware of their whereabouts at all times.
• Primary and high schools need to have training on acceptable behaviour for boys.
• Our police force needs to be properly trained on what is unacceptable behaviour.
• Our lawyers and judges need to review their biases and be given re-education training.
• First offence of any threatening behaviour should require them to be placed in a mandatory men’s behaviour re-training group.
• Any man transitioning out of a relationship needs to attend mandatory behaviour re-training group.
These men’s freedoms need to be taken from them until they can prove they can take responsibility for their own beliefs and behaviour. Instead, women and children lose their freedom by living in fear of them until they inevitably lose their lives to them.
This was not an accident or a tragedy. It was not domestic violence or family violence. Domestic violence makes it sound as if the roof suddenly caved in on them or a door suddenly slammed on their fingers. It makes it sound like a domicile is malevolent instead of the man living in it. Family violence makes it sound as if families are out roaming the streets in gangs inflicting violence on unsuspecting lone members of society. It is neither of these things. It is time to call it by its real name. Male Violence. It is male violence against women and children. Say it out loud: male violence. Male violence.
We need lawyers to undertake much needed research into the comparative sentencing rates of men’s violence against women compared to violence against men to fully expose the leniency of sentencing when women are the victims. There is evidence of this and it needs to be exposed in a clearly transparent way to show how the legal system is biased against women and in favour of the men who commit the crimes. Just imagine if the situation was flipped and women were killing men and children at an average of more than one per week. Do you think they would be allowed to continue without the police, the legal system and the government enforcing legislation to stop them? Do you think the media would be allowed to call them ‘good sheilas’, ‘victims of their circumstances’, “women who were pushed too far’, ‘women who need help and support’? If you answered yes, you are not thinking very honestly about the question. These men are choosing to behave this way, they are not broken, the system that protects them is.
Media, police and policy makers have to stop painting these men as victims who are somehow sick and need help. They need training and boundaries and clearly enforced rules to hold them accountable for their own misogynistic belief systems. These men are not victims of ANYTHING, they are perpetrators of terror, violence and homicide.
This mother and her three children deserved much more. The institutions of this country have failed them because no institutions were in place to protect them and stop him. These men need to be stopped. They need to be stopped now.
I am heartbroken for the extended family and my condolences are with them.
Their names were Tre, Laianah, Aaliyah and Hannah. Remember them and never forget why they died. They died because everything was in place to allow them to be killed and nothing was in place to stop him.