Content note for violence against women and people of colour.
Last week, a young woman was murdered in Brisbane. Police managed to identify her as an international student from France called Sophie Collumbet. She was brutally beaten by her attacker, probably while on her way home.
In recent times, three other international students were also murdered in Brisbane, two of them young women. Eunji Ban, a Korean student, was also bashed to death, while walking to her job as a cleaner. Meenatchi Narayan, a Singaporean student, was stabbed to death in a hotel room. Min Tae Kim, also from Korea, makes four murders in the last four months.
People try to tell me that we don’t have a problem with violence against women or with race. And yet, here were are: four murders in one city in four months. All international students. Three young women. Three non-white. Tell me that there isn’t a pattern here.
But of course, Australia – Brisbane – does not have a problem with race or violence against women. It’s funny how in cases of murder there is less outcry for women to be more careful, to not walk alone, to use common sense to protect themselves, than in cases of rape or sexual violence. But I wonder if the reasons behind these three women’s murders is that we foster a culture where women’s bodies are inherently worth less, up for grabs, a target for violence.
I wonder if the fact that all of these students were from countries other than Australia has anything to do with why they were murdered. But there could never be a racial motivation behind violence, could there? Not in a country which thinks itself so progressive and forward that it thinks it can drastically water down its racial anti-discrimination act without any negative repercussions.
In the light of these murders, one would think that people would be thinking about violence against women and people of colour. But instead, the Brisbane club Cloudland is advertising their Easter events through posters that fetishise and sexualise Asian women and view them through the barrel of a gun. Posters where women are literally portrayed as sexual objects, as animals to be hunted, as less than human.
Brisbane’s mayor, Graham Quirk, does not think that international students – female students in particular – should stop coming to Brisbane. On the death of Eunji Ban, he stated that she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Are all women, all people of colour in the wrong place at the wrong time? When will we start to decry violence against women and people of colour as what it really is, and recognise that we live in a culture that enables it and that the culture needs to change?
Please tell me that Brisbane does not have a problem with violence against women and people of colour. I dare you.