This is the 41st Australian woman to die from violence this year.
Lily James, a 21-year-old water polo coach, works at St. Andrew’s Church School in central Sydney. In the impression of her friends, she is a kind friend and an enthusiastic athlete, full of energy and outgoing personality. After her busy work, she spends as much time as possible with her family.
But on the evening of October 25, local time in Australia, she did not return home and her whereabouts are unknown. In the early hours of the next morning, the police received a call from a man informing him of Lily’s location.
Police found Lily in the bathroom of the school gymnasium. She had been killed hours earlier after suffering multiple blows to the head.
The police concluded that the murder was related to her 24-year-old ex-boyfriend Paul Tison.
Video surveillance showed that Paul followed Lily into the gym bathroom, but finally left alone. On the morning of the incident, Paul happened to go to the hardware store and buy a hammer.
At the same time, the police also discovered that after killing Lily, Paul drove a Lexus to Vaucluse in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. There he dropped a hammer and other items and sat there for several hours. During this time, he called the police and disclosed the location of Lily’s body.
On Friday afternoon, the police found the body of a man on the rocks under the seaside cliff, which was later confirmed to be Paul Tison. After killing Lily, he chose to commit suicide.
The murder shocked the whole of Australia. Over the past nearly a month, news headlines continued to report, social media discussions continued, and the whole society mourned Lily.
On November 17, at Denebank Anglican School in southern Sydney, more than 500 students and community members, dressed in bright clothes and holding bright flowers, walked through the foyer filled with fairy lights and held a unique memorial ceremony. Yes, “Don’t be black.” It is reported that this is a request from his family, relatives and friends.
A number of dignitaries also participated, with New South Wales Premier Chris Minns also appearing at the ceremony.
The reason why Lily’s murder has attracted so much attention is that it is the 41st woman to be killed by violence in Australia this year. Australians have discovered that even among developed countries, women are still facing violence that is difficult to prevent.
The crisis of being a woman
Lily’s murderer Paul, 24, is a graduate of St. Andrew’s Church School and a sports coach at the school.
He grew up in the Netherlands and had previously lived in Zetland in Sydney’s inner east before moving to a semi-detached house in Kensington, southeast of Sydney, in August this year to live with a young woman and a male ice hockey player. . In the impression of the neighbors, the three of them were very polite and usually kept to themselves.
Coincidentally, the murder occurred just days after their breakup.
Investigators believe Paul’s murder was not a spur-of-the-moment attack but a premeditated attack after the two briefly dated for five weeks and coincidentally, the murder occurred just days after they broke up. On the day of the incident, the two met at school and had a quarrel.
On the day of the crime, just hours before Lily James was killed, surveillance video captured Paul buying a hammer and borrowing a car at a hardware store not far from his home. That day, Paul drove the 2003 Lexus sedan to work.
According to Lily James’s injuries, her head was injured by a blunt instrument. However, the hammer purchased by Paul was not the murder weapon used to kill Lily. The police determined that Paul should have two hammers, and the other one may have been taken from the school storage room. Paul also called the police four hours after Lily James was killed. The operator recalled: “The informant said there was a woman’s body in the bathroom to the right of the reception area. He said he had been there a few hours ago.”
After committing the murder, Paul did not return home. The police searched his bedroom – there was a yellow-green jersey in the bedroom, a bottle of air freshener on the bedside, some pills such as ibuprofen and an electric razor on the bed, and the white wardrobe door had been It’s broken and the whole room looks messy. But criminal psychologist Tim Watson-Munro believes: “The untidy room does not necessarily indicate that he is ‘mentally insane’. On the contrary, the murderer may be very conscious when committing the murder.” On the morning of
October 27, someone in Sydney A body was found under the cliffs of Diamond Bay off the coast. After a fingerprint comparison with Dutch embassy records, police confirmed the body was that of Paul.
In the impression of some students, Paul Tison is a caring and very enthusiastic coach. John Collier, the former headmaster of St Andrew’s Cathedral School, remembered Paul as an “excellent pupil, prefect and role model” and a likeable young man “until he committed the murder. An hour ago, he was chatting with school staff and seemed relaxed and happy.” Collier said: “This is completely inconsistent with the image observed by people who knew him.”
Collier wondered: “What caused his mental breakdown?”
There is currently no evidence that Paul suffered from mental illness, but Collier’s question obscures a real issue: These appalling acts of violence against women may indeed be committed by people who appear to be normal and even behave very positively. There is no absolutely direct connection between a person’s external image and whether he will commit a violent crime.
In particular, violent crimes involving intimate relationships are often more hidden and may appear more commonplace to outsiders. This is not unique to any particular society.
In 2018, the World Health Organization analyzed the situation in 161 countries and regions from 2000 to 2018 and found that as many as 38% of murders of women worldwide were committed by their intimate partners; nearly one-third of women Experiencing physical and sexual violence by an intimate partner or non-partner.
In recent times, cases of intimate partner violence and even murder have occurred frequently in Australia.
Just in October, security guards at the Crown Towers Hotel in Perth, Western Australia, found 34-year-old lawyer Alice McShera dead in her room, suspected of being murdered by a 42-year-old man in the same room. Within 10 days, five Australian women were killed one after another by the men around them, causing widespread concern in Australian society.
Prior to this, 46-year-old Analynn Osias in Victoria was also fatally attacked in a house, and a 44-year-old man was charged with murder; just after Lily James was killed In the same week, a 65-year-old woman was found with multiple stab wounds in her kitchen in Canberra, and police arrested her 70-year-old husband on suspicion of murder.
Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon from Monash University’s Center for Gender and Family Violence Prevention said domestic violence was now “a national crisis” in Australia.
In Australia, 39% of women have experienced violence since the age of 15. Among them, men are more often the perpetrators of physical violence, sexual harassment and sexual violence. Women are more likely to experience violence from someone they know (35%) than from strangers (11%). In 2021-2022, 5,606 women in Australia (an average of 15 women every day) were hospitalized due to domestic violence.
According to reports, 91% of people in Australia believe that violence against women exists in the country. Since the statistics of female deaths began in 2012, the number of female deaths due to violence in Australia every year ranges from 43 to 84.
However, in many people’s minds, domestic violence is not yet a clear crime—less than half of people realize that this kind of violence exists around them. The 2021 Australian National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (NCAS) showed that 23% of people also believe that domestic violence is a normal response to daily stress.
It would probably be a bit one-sided to attribute violence in intimate relationships solely to disparity in physical strength. In more cases, this is a social issue related to politics, economy, law and civilization.
Among the risk factors for intimate partner violence and sexual violence listed by the World Health Organization, they include but are not limited to: lower education levels, difficulty for women to find paid work, weak legal sanctions against sexual violence, etc.
Australia’s economic level is at the forefront of developed countries. But what few people notice is that women in the country are still in a disadvantaged position compared to men. Sexism still exists in Australian culture, resulting in women doing more unpaid housework than men and earning less than men.
Weekly average earnings data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on February 23, 2023 show that for every Australian dollar a man earns, women only earn 87 Australian cents. As of November 2022, women’s average full-time weekly earnings across all industries and occupations were $1653.60, while men’s average full-time weekly earnings were $1907.10. In 2018, 12.9% of women were still living in poverty, compared with 10.6% of men.
The impact of income levels on women is obvious. For example, a woman who earns less than her partner may have less bargaining power at home because she “contributes less to the household,” while a woman who relies on her partner’s income may be less likely to leave an abusive relationship.
Statistics show that more than 25% to 50% of homeless Australian women are homeless because of domestic violence.
A generation’s plan
As early as July this year, Australia’s Minister of Women’s Safety, Amanda Richworth, spoke on the X platform (formerly Twitter), saying that any form of violence against women and children is unacceptable. This year alone, We have seen too many lives lost due to domestic violence. She called for an end to this.
Rishworth also reiterated previous funding commitments and the existence of a national plan to target gender-based violence.
That was one year ago, on October 17, 2022, when the Australian federal, state and territory governments jointly released the “National Plan to Eliminate Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032”. Its goal is to end violence against women and children within a generation.
The national plan emphasizes that governments, businesses and workplaces, the media, schools and educational institutions, families, domestic and sexual violence authorities, communities and all individuals must work together. The government will also provide funds to support victims.
According to a report by Australia News Network in November 2022, Australian Prime Minister Albanese also made a commitment to the International Trade Union Confederation to submit “International Labor Convention 190” to Parliament to deal with harassment and violence in the workplace.
Its goal is to end violence against women and children within a generation.
In fact, the Australian government has been paying attention to the issue of gender-based violence for a long time. As early as 2010, the country proposed its first ten-year national plan. Judging from the data, the government’s attention and changes have indeed brought about some changes in the current situation of women. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the proportion of Australian women who reported “experiencing domestic violence by a partner in the past 12 months” fell from 1.7% to 0.9% between 2016 and 2021-2022.
But in the eyes of Australians, this is still not enough. In the eyes of many researchers, the recent situation seems to be deteriorating.
In July this year, Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon of Monash University published a related article. In the title, she pointed out more bluntly that at the moment, the death toll is increasing but there is very little action.
In the first 30 weeks of 2023, women died of violence almost every week, mostly killed by their former or current partners. This data aroused her vigilance, and in her view, this publicly reported data is just the tip of the iceberg.
She mentioned in the article that it has been nearly a year since the national plan was announced. Although it promised to end gender-based violence within a generation, the public wording and pace did not make people aware of the necessary importance and urgency. People are still waiting for more detailed plans and funding, she said.
Fortunately, a month later, the Australian government released its first five-year plan, the “First Action Plan 2023-2027”, in which promoting gender equality is the top priority among the 10 plans.
At the end of January this year, New South Wales launched a state-wide raid targeting domestic violence offenders, arresting nearly 650 people. “Domestic and family-related violence is the most challenging community issue of our generation,” NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon said.
State authorities are also stepping up their response to domestic violence.
In July, the New South Wales police launched the country’s first domestic violence registry to register repeat offenders of domestic violence; the Western Australian government also proposed to install electronic tags for perpetrators.
Overall, there is a long way to go to end domestic violence within a generation, and Australia still has a lot to do, but its determination is commendable.