Australian rallies demand safe streets for women after Israeli student murder

Demonstrators hold signs while marching during the annual Women's March in Sydney, Australia, on Jan 20, 2019.
Demonstrators hold signs while marching during the annual Women's March in Sydney, Australia, on Jan 20, 2019.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Several thousand people marched through major Australian cities on Sunday (Jan 20) calling for safety for women after an Israeli exchange student was murdered in Melbourne.

The marches, part of the Women's March rallies held around the world in support of women's rights, gathered some 3,000 people in Sydney, who in their chants demanded safe streets for women in Australian cities.

Ms Aiia Maasarwe, 21, was killed when walking home after a night out with friends in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, earlier this week. A 20-year-old man was charged with her murder.

Ms Maasarwe's death recharged outrage over violence against women after 22-year-old Eurydice Dixon was killed in Melbourne while walking home after performing at a comedy show last June.

Thousands of people gathered at vigils for Ms Maasarwe last Friday and continued to lay flowers at the site of her death. A special tram carrying only flowers late last Friday followed the route of Ms Maasarwe's final journey.

In Sydney on Sunday, marchers held signs paying tribute to Ms Maasarwe and other victims of violence. Television news showed women carrying signs: "For Aiia and for those who suffer silently" and "I wanna walk through the park in the dark".

"I don't want my daughter to grow up in a world where she's unsafe or she can't pursue the opportunities she wants, and I march for my son because I don't want him to grow up in a world where toxic masculinity is acceptable," said Ms Samantha Nolan-Smith, one of several hundred protesters in the Australian capital Canberra, reported Australian Broadcasting Corp.

 

In reaction to Ms Maasarwe's death, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government would announce another "action plan" to stem violence against women, ahead of an election expected by May, on top of A$350 million (S$342 million) that has already been committed.