It's the same message time and time again. All around the world women simply do not feel safe. In the wake of Sabina Nessa's murder and the ongoing Gabby Petito case we are once again reminded of this truth. Now Australia's own thorny relationship with gendered violence is under the microscope after a Knox Grammar graduate was found not guilty of allegedly assaulting a woman outside a Sydney pub. This is despite the 21-year-old pleading guilty to the assault.
Judge Rob Sutherland told the NSW District Court that the ex-student's actions were "out of character" and that the woman's “dress might have been perceived by a former student of Knox to be provocative." He then concluded that an assault conviction would not be “necessary.” The Knox Grammar graduate emerged from the courtroom virtually unscathed with a 14-month good behaviour bond.
Following the verdict, Ovira, a period-pain relief start-up summed up our collective fury at the way male perpetrators of violence against woman are not held accountable in this country. Especially if they're white and wealthy. Ovira's message was simple and well-executed. As part of its first out-of-home campaign, the company parked a truck with twin billboards outside Knox Grammar and the Downing Centre on Sunday, September 26. The billboards read, "You will not silence our pain."
Alice Williams, the founder of Ovira said in an Instagram post yesterday, "This weekend we drove a billboard around Sydney with the words 'You will not silence our pain,' to send a message of support to the young Australian woman who was recently assaulted by a 20 year old man, let off without consequence by a court ruling." Considering Ovira create wearable devices made to ease the suffering of vulva owner's during their period cycle, they are invested in the wellbeing and safety of women.
"This case is just one example of how alarmingly comfortable our society is with pain and suffering being an expected part of a woman’s life. It’s reflected in the devastating numbers of violence against women and filters all the way through to so many parts of our daily lives (like period pain, endometriosis, painful sex). Women’s pain is repeatedly dismissed. We recognise women’s needs have been historically ignored, underfunded and under-researched by society. And we are determined to change this," Williams continued.
Judge Sutherland's comments echo and validate the ex-students own slut shaming behaviour toward the woman. The Guardian reported that the Knox Grammar graduate had called the woman he assaulted a "slut", telling her to put her “tits away"; before he was kicked out of Greengate Hotel in Killara, where he proceeded to allegedly assault her. This is indicative of the insidious way rape culture creeps into every facet of our culture, influencing when justice can be sought and by who. As a result, many instances of male violence against women goes unreported as traditional routes for justice fail to protect women.
If you or someone you know is impacted by violence, call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.