Image: 30,000 people turn out. Picture: Aaron Francis Source: Herald Sun
Jill Meagher, a twenty nine year old Irish immigrant had a few drinks with friends at a Melbourne bar close to her home, left on the short walk there and disappeared. Her body was found a week later when a man (for want of a better description) was charged with her rape and murder.
In an unprecedented event yesterday, some 30,000 people turned out to a tribute march for her. Quite a few heads are being scratched today as the question is asked, why? It appears that social media played a big part.
Her disappearance was a little higher profile than usual owing to her employment at the ABC, but apart from expressing concern for their employee, and grief when her fate was known, there was little out of the ordinary in the coverage. She was not one of the faces seen regularly on the screen. She was not a household name. There was no ethnic angle.
She was attractive, but other murder victims have been as well. A bright bubbly generous spirit has been mentioned, but only her workmates, family, friends, and acquaintances would be aware of that.
While her fate was horrible, the Anita Cobby case was worse. Cobby was a beauty contest winner who in 1986 was abducted, pack raped by five men, including three brothers, and had her throat cut and was left to die. Both were from suburbs of major cities.
There has been speculation that the public is fed up with violence, especially against women, but this feeling has been around for a long time. It’s possible that there had to be a first time.
Perhaps this is the first time somebody has called for such an action.
Whatever the reason, this action will do some good, even if it has merely allowed people the opportunity to show that they care. Perhaps her family will be helped to know that so many do care.
And perhaps the sight of so many taking to the streets will get government to concentrate on violent crime, moving resources away from non violent breaches of feel good laws that achieve nothing, such as marijuana offences. The primary purpose of law enforcement should be concentrated against coercive acts, not enforcing petty regulations.
Our hearts go out to the family of Jill, and to her friends and acquaintances, and we hope that you will in the passage of time find peace in the memory of a lady who seems to have been someone very special.