A pair of candidates are running for higher office under the banner “End Violence Against Women”, yet, with so many Australians behind this initiative, why are they receiving so little coverage?
There is a pair of candidates of particular note seeking higher office in this Saturday’s Victorian state election. Tarang Chawla and Nicole Lee have been campaigning for seats in the upper house, running in Melbourne’s south eastern metropolitan region under the banner: “End Violence Against Women”.
Tarang’s sister Nikita was murdered by her partner; Nicole was the victim of domestic violence for 10 years (she shared her story on an episode of the ABC’s You Can’t Ask That).
This concept, the very idea of ending violence against women, is something you’d think all parties, large and small, would get behind in some regard. And it is baffling that given the statistics (on average one woman is murdered every week in Australia), Tarang and Nicole represent the very first time that the issue has been the central theme of any campaign for higher office in Australia.
At what was effectively a campaign launch on Tuesday night, the candidates spoke at a gathering of supporters, and a group of guest speakers were in attendance to bolster the cause. Present were noted feminist and author Clementine Ford, the former federal member for Wills (and anti-domestic violence activist) Phil Cleary, and 2015 Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty.
The event took place one day after the state funeral for Sisto Malaspina, a well-known restaurateur and co-owner of the iconic Pellegrini’s restaurant in Melbourne, who was killed two weeks ago during the violent incident on Bourke Street in Melbourne’s CBD.
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Cleary delivered an impassioned, stirring speech, regaling his own feelings having lost his sister to male violence in 1987. He made the point that while Sisto was a good man and deserved to have his moment of remembrance and mourning, that the level of media scrutiny applied to Sisto’s sudden, brutal and tragic death should be attached to every single case of family violence that takes place. Perhaps then, the problem would inch closer to a solution. Not all terror is perpetrated by zealots fuelled by religious fervour; some is done by husbands and fathers in suburban streets.
We appear to be living in a country where whoever is PM this week shows up at the site of tragedy and acts as the mourner-in-chief; at the same time, no genuine action is taken to curb the epidemic of family violence plaguing the nation.
The issue is, apparently, a poisoned chalice. For no matter what the statistics show, and the fact that more than 99% of violence is perpetrated by men, the topic gets clouded by claims of “not all men”, a phrase as overused as it is misapplied. Tarang asked Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy what he was going to do about violence against women. Guy gave some cursory comment about tougher sentencing laws. The moment, captured on video and posted on social media, was apparently not to his liking, so now all Liberal “how to vote” cards have Tarang and Nicole placed second-to-last as a preference.
Again, this is a ticket with an aim of ending violence against women – a sentiment apparently anathema to Liberal sensibilities. And they want to relegate them to the ash heap of political history.
Tarang and Nicole stand as living embodiments of perseverance, stoicism, strength and determination. People in the region would do very well to vote for them this Saturday. Their campaign of bringing an end to violence against women won’t end after the polls close on Saturday, however, and win or lose, that fight will go on.