Aiia Maasarwe took public transport.
She stayed on a well-lit public path, on a major road.
She talked on her phone, on FaceTime actually, chatting with her sister as she made the midnight trek back to her home.
It was a short journey, too – only around 1km. She knew the area and it was populated with a 24-hour service station, a shopping centre, a row of townhouses, and an intersection.
She took every “proper precaution”.
And still, she was still horrifically attacked and murdered.
And still, the response from some people – and I would hazard a guess that they are male – is: Don’t walk alone at night.
What is the alternative, then… Pay for a cab or an Uber home? But what if that is where your attacker lies? Maybe women should just be on curfew from now on, unable to stay out past sunset? I mean, seriously, I want to know – what do we have to do as women to be safe?
I was in Sydney a few months ago catching up with work colleagues. A knockoff drink turned into another, and instead of heading back to my hotel with a little sun still in the sky, it was dark by the time I walked home.
I sheepishly asked a work colleague if he wouldn’t mind walking me back to my hotel on his way to the train station? At the time, I felt a little foolish – like I was over dramatising the risks of walking a short distance by myself at night.
Stories like this remind me that I was not.
Unbelievably, it’s been more than five years since Jill Meagher was killed. Jill had talked on the phone with her brother. She was walking along busy Sydney Road in Brunswick, and her husband was waiting, expecting her home just minutes after she was dragged off the street, raped and murdered on September 22, 2012.
Kate details a harrowing number of other similar brutal murders of women in Australia from the last half-decade on her Twitter feed here.
This is heartbreaking. Watching the footage of Aiia’s devastated father on the news is enough to make anyone weep, and again we start asking the question: what can we do about it?
I don’t know the answer. But I do know that “stop walking alone at night” isn’t it.