hnpcc: (Default)
[personal profile] hnpcc
The disappearance of Jill Meagher kind of freaked me out a bit. I lived in the suburb to the north of where she disappeared for 14 years, and frequently walked home alone late at night. For starters the last trams only ran to the depot, and turned off toward it 600m before my stop - so I always walked the last two stops home when I was returning from the lab late at night. I never felt threatened walking home - it was much safer than walking across parts of the university campus when I was doing Honours, and certainly less threatening than the corners of Bourke and Russell Sts were during the cheap heroin period in 1998-2000. I used to walk down Collins St towards the trams specifically to avoid those corners - the walk home in the suburb was, by comparison, blessedly uncrowded, untroubled by beggars and occasional violence (I never found out who the opposing groups holed up in the Maccas and Jackas respectively were, although I'm guessing dealers) and quiet.

The ending to Jill Meagher's story was unfortunately entirely expected. It's frightening to realise how early the majority of us were fairly certain that she'd met with foul play. If she'd "just" been raped or assaulted she would have been found much sooner - and her story would have been unlikely to have been known outside a small group of friends and maybe police. Instead she'd apparently vanished from the face of the earth, only minutes from both home and a busy street. That, more than anything, was frightening. We don't really expect abductions to end well.

I did wonder how much longer it would have taken to find out what had happened had she been of a different demographic. If her friends and family weren't already working in media, and didn't know how to utilise social media effectively. If she hadn't been married - and so had someone waiting for her to return, who noticed very early on when she didn't* and went out searching for her. Who then notified the police when she was nowhere to be found, again very early. If she'd been 21, single, living alone and out with a group of friends who knows how long it would have taken before someone noticed she hadn't come home and set the wheels in motion? If she'd been from a non-English speaking background, how much longer would it have taken before the story hit the media?

Then you have the lucky chance of both Meagher and the accused pausing outside a shop which had CCTV facing the street. I've been making mental comparisons to the disappearance of Bung Siriboom, who also vanished without trace last year - she was also the subject of a large media storm, but there is no CCTV footage to give any clue as to who might have taken her**.

I'm not sure that this makes a good argument for more CCTV coverage***, but I certainly agree that without that camera it would have taken much longer before Meagher's body was discovered - and that still wouldn't have necessarily given any clue as to who'd murdered her.

I'm glad that they were able to arrest someone so quickly, both for Meagher's family's sake, and because I doubt that that would have been his only attack. Which makes Siriboom's disappearance more worrying again.

And yet.. I found myself getting more and more annoyed by the coverage of Meagher's disappearance, and by some of the comments regarding her decision to walk home alone. Then there were some incredible overreactions to the discovery of her body - my favourite to dae was the woman on my facebook feed claiming that she'd never walk alone again (admittedly that person does have a toddler, so not a lot of choice in the matter at present.) It annoys me intensely that this has made people, particularly women, feel that it is a bad choice to walk alone, even such a short distance as 700m home. This post summed up a lot of how I was feeling about the victim blaming going on.

I still plan on walking the 700m home from the station by myself, last train or not. I think that I will try and walk the Reclaim the Night march again this year as well though. For Meagher, and for all of us who want and should be able to walk home in peace and safety.


*And who was actually still up, despite having a nap on the couch. I have a strong suspicion that if it had been me Dean wouldn't have started getting concerned until he woke the following morning and I wasn't there.
**That still creeps me out - she was walking to school in broad daylight, and was very close to the school when she disappeared. It is incredible that no one saw anything - there must have been other students around, parents driving their kids in... how can someone just vanish in those circumstances?
***different post, which I may or may not get around to writing. Short version - how much coverage, who's watching it (or not), and who gets to access data? And is there any evidence that it prevents crime?

Date: 2012-10-06 02:36 pm (UTC)
ext_14638: (Amor Vincit Omnia)
From: [identity profile] 17catherines.livejournal.com
This is one of those annoying comments that just says yes, I agree with absolutely everything you've written here.

And I'll go to that march too, if you let me know when it is.

Date: 2012-10-07 10:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hnpcc.livejournal.com
20th October 7.30pm Brunswick Town Hall.

More details here.

Date: 2012-10-07 10:18 am (UTC)
ext_14638: (Default)
From: [identity profile] 17catherines.livejournal.com
Hmm... think I'm on evensong that night. Will check.

Date: 2012-10-08 10:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hnpcc.livejournal.com
The time's now moved to 7pm, which is probably of no difference if you're at Evensong! But I thought I'd better let you know. The starting place is at Brunswick Rd/Sydney Rd, walking up to Victoria St.

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