Eurydice Dixon: Grief and rage as Australia mourns slain comedian
Eurydice Dixon was walking home from a comedy gig when it happened.
The 22-year-old comedian took a shortcut through Princes Park in Melbourne, Australia, and reportedly fired off a text message to a friend, saying: “I’m almost home safe, HBU [how about you]?”
A few hours later, police were called to Princes Park to investigate a body found on the soccer pitch. Investigators said it was Dixon, and that she had been raped and murdered in the early hours of Wednesday, June 13.
Jaymes Todd, 19, has been arrested and charged with rape and murder in connection with the incident.
Dixon’s death has triggered a massive outpouring of grief and rage in Australia, where victim-blaming and vandalism at the memorial site have stoked demands for the country to improve its attitude toward women.
“This is a heartbreaking tragedy,” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told Parliament on Monday.
“We must never, ever, ever tolerate violence against women.”
The incident has thrust Australia’s relatively poor record on violence against women into the national conversation once more.
One in five women over the age of 15 has experienced some form of sexual violence in Australia, compared to one in 20 among men, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The Australian Human Rights Commission says the country has a “disturbingly high rate of violence against women.”
“What we must do as we grieve is ensure that we change the hearts of men to respect women,” Turnbull said.
Thousands of Australians gathered in Princes Park Monday night for a candlelight vigil to honour Dixon and other female victims of violence.
“We all should be able to walk home, whenever we want, wherever we want, and assume we will make it home safe,” wrote the organizers of the vigil on Facebook. “Our bodies are not there for taking.”
Smaller vigils were also held in several cities around Australia, including in Canberra, where Turnbull lit a candle for Dixon after paying tribute to her in Parliament.
“We need to ensure that we have a culture of respect for women,” he told Parliament.
“Not all disrespect of women ends up in violence against women, but that’s where all violence against women begins.”
The vigil in Princes Park was held around the spot where Dixon’s body was found, which has since been piled high with flowers and other tributes.
Police and fire crews were back at the scene of the crime early Monday to clean up obscene graffiti left at the scene sometime overnight.
Firefighters used high-pressure hoses and sand to remove an apparently phallic-shaped image that had been crudely drawn on the grass around the memorial.
Police are investigating the incident.
Blaming the victim
Victoria’s premier and other have accused Victoria Police of victim-blaming in the incident, after two officers advised members of the public to be alert at all times.
“This is an area of high community activity, … so just make sure you have situational awareness, that you’re aware of your surroundings,” Supt. David Clayton said on Wednesday.
“If you’ve got a mobile phone, carry it, and if you’ve got any concerns, call police,” he said.
“People need to be aware of their own personal security,” Det.-Insp. Andrew Stamper, of Victoria police, said on Thursday.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews condemned the police response to Dixon’s death in a post on Facebook.
“She had a phone. She was using it,” he wrote. “She was keeping an eye on her surroundings. Looking out for herself. Being responsible. Doing everything we expect.”
Andrews called for a change in attitude around violence against women, saying that there was nothing more Dixon could’ve done to change her fate.
“Eurydice died because of her attacker’s actions — not because of her own,” Andrews said.
“Women don’t need to change their behaviour. Men do.”
Victoria Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton told ABC News that officers were not attempting to blame the victim.
“It was about trying to get the community just to be aware of what’s around you at the moment,” Ashton told ABC News Breakfast.
“It didn’t really come out that way.”
Andrews and Ashton were among those present at the vigil in Princes Park on Monday.
Light the way home
Monday’s vigil in Princes Park sparked an outpouring of sympathetic posts on social media.
Many users shared photos of candles burning at their windows or on their porches under the hashtags #LightTheWayHome and #ReclaimPrincesPark.
Dixon was killed on her way home from a Tuesday night gig at Highlander Bar in Melbourne.
Bar management acknowledged her passing in a Facebook post, saying they were “deeply shocked and saddened” by the news.
“She was a remarkable, talented, kind, unique and universally loved person and the entire staff are shattered and heartbroken.”
A video appearing to show Dixon’s last performance at the Highlander Bar before her death has circulated widely on social media. (WARNING: The video contains coarse language.)
The comedian in the video can be heard joking about what life would be like in a “slave society.”
“That means no one has any rights,” she says in the video, adding: “We’ll finally have gender equality.”
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.