Some of the women and children lost to violence in Australia.
Some of the women and children lost to violence in Australia. The RED HEART Campaign

400 lost souls: the women, children taken too soon

Journalist SHERELE MOODY believes International Women's Day is the perfect time for all Australians to remember women and girls lost to violence.

ON EACH International Women's Day, millions of Aussie women and girls reflect on the political and social issues behind the ongoing fight for gender equality.

They'll be thinking about closing the gender pay gap; getting more men to shoulder their share of household work and parenting roles; equal representation on boards, in management and in public office; equitable access to traditionally male jobs; decriminalising abortion; and even getting more females on radio and TV.

All of these issues are in the back of my mind, but it's pretty hard to get past the fact that thousands of Australian women and girls have been robbed of the opportunity to celebrate International Women's Day.

Over the past few months, I've been building an online memorial wall to commemorate all of the nation's women and children who have lost their lives to violence.

The memorial is the only one of its kind in Australia and it now features 400 faces of women and children who are no longer with us.

Every day I add a few more faces and stories and with each victim I uncover I invariably find two or three more.

This growing memento to angels lost is just the tip of the iceberg, with most violence experts believing more than 3000 women have been killed in Australia this century.

There are names on the site that most of you know: Allison Baden-Clay, Jill Meagher, Tara Costigan, Shelsea Schilling, Tiahleigh Palmer, Darcey Freeman, Taryn Hunt, Nikita Chawla, Sherelle Locke, Lisa Harnum and Anita Cobby.

There are names that you may not know: Stacey-Ann Tracy, Katrina (Kate) Coker, Kylie Cay, and Amy Aiton just to name a few.

Regardless of whether they are familiar or not, what is clear is that there are far too many names to list here and far too many photos to show you.

Each of these women and children has died violently, most have convicted or alleged male perpetrators and almost all were allegedly killed in a domestic or sexual violence context.

There seems to be no stopping the deaths - since January 1, 13 Australian women and five children have been allegedly murdered.

On average one Australian woman a week is murdered by a family member or someone known to her.

One in three females will experience physical violence, one in five will be raped and one in four will be emotionally abused in their lifetime.

Violence against women remains one of our country's biggest problems, with more than 300,000 female victims reporting assaults every year.

Most of those women and girls will not be killed, but a part of them will die inside as they deal with the physical and psychological repercussions for the rest of their lives.

For those who do lose their lives, when the headlines have gone, their faces and their names will fade from the public's consciousness like flames in the wind.

And this is why we need this the Remembering Women & Children Lost to Violence memorial.

Yes, every photo is heartbreaking and every story is terrifying. But every one of the victims on this memorial reminds us that the next angel to be added to the site could be a woman or child who you know - and that is something none of us should lose sight of on International Women's Day - and every other day.

Sherele Moody is a journalist working for News Corp Australia and the founder of The RED HEART Campaign. The RED HEART Campaign memorial to women and children lost to violence can be visited on Facebook here.


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