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    Rape and Murder of Young Comedian Highlights Australia's Sexual Violence Issue

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    The rape and murder of 22-year-old Australian comedian Eurydice Dixon as she walked home at night in Melbourne has highlighted the wider issue of ‘disturbingly high’ incidences of violence against women in Australia.

    Dixon's body was found in a football field around 2.40 am June 13, mere hours after she'd performed a set at a city bar. Authorities state Dixon was attacked in the suburb of Carlton North, sometime after leaving a bar in central Melbourne around 22:30 ACT June 12, a few hundred meters from her home. At midnight, she'd sent a text message to a friend saying"I'm almost home safe, HBU [how about you]."

    Jaymes Todd, a 19-year-old local, handed himself to police the next day, and was charged with the rape and murder of Dixon. The court has prohibited publication of images of Todd, after his lawyer argued he was vulnerable in custody, and media coverage could affect the reliability of witness statements. He will be tried October 3.

    "She had a great passion for women's issues and social justice issues, and drew upon them a lot in the material she produced as a comic," fellow comedian Nicky Barry told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

    An online fundraiser for Dixon's family has received over US$39,600 (A$53,000) in donations.

    ‘Disturbingly High'

    Dixon's death has precipitated a wider discussion in Australia about violence against women. In 2017 Australia's human rights commission concluded the country is home to a "disturbingly high" rate of violence against women, with one in five having endured sexual violence or threats since the age of 15.

    "Violence against women takes many forms, including family and domestic violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment, violence in residential settings and online violence and harassment…5.3 percent of women experienced some form of violence in the last 12 months, and 40.8 percent had experienced some form of violence since the age of 15. Most instances of violence against women were perpetrated by someone known to them: around 74 percent of women who experienced violence in the last 12 months, and 87 percent of women who experienced violence since the age of 15, reported the perpetrator was someone they know," the report stated.

    dThe commission also alleged sexual harassment, particularly in the workplace, remains a significant problem in Australia with one-third of women having been sexually harassed since the age of 15 and many women, especially young women, experiencing violence and harassment online. This includes dissemination of private images or materials without consent, and violent, sexualized abuse and harassment. Women who advocate on women's rights issues, including family and domestic violence, appear to be at particular risk of the latter form of online harassment.

    In 2012, Jill Meagher was raped and murdered in a Melbourne suburb — the coroner's report concluded authorities could've prevented her death, by revoking her killer's parole as soon as he breached it.

    Meagher went missing during a night out with colleagues — her body was discovered six days afterward buried on the outskirts of Melbourne. Adrian Bayley, who had a history of violent sex attacks, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum jail term of 35 years for her murder. The coroner pointed to failings by Australia's Community Correctional Services as being fundamental in her slaying, suggesting "a more rigorous, risk-averse approach" by authorities would've resulted inj the cancellation of Bayley's parole.

    Bayley had been on parole for previous rapes when he raped and murdered Meagher, and was also on bail pending appeal of a three-month sentence after attacking a man outside a pub the year prior. At the time, he'd already served eight years' jail for 16 counts of rape against five women.

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    sexual violence, crime, sex crime, rape, Australia
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