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Australians call for tougher laws on violence against women after killings

  • By Katy Watson
  • BBC News, Sydney

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, Many people demonstrated in Melbourne on Sunday

Rallies have been held across Australia in response to a recent wave of violence against women.

Protesters want gender-based violence to be declared a national emergency and tougher laws put in place to stop it.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese declared it a national crisis.

In Australia, since the start of the year, a woman has been killed on average every four days.

Organizer Martina Ferrara said: “We want alternative reporting options for victim survivors to allow them to own their story and take ownership of their healing and reporting journey.

“And we want the government to recognize that this is an emergency measure and take immediate action.”

Speaking at a march in the capital Canberra attended by thousands of protesters, Mr Albanese admitted government at all levels needed to do better.

“We need to change the culture, the attitudes, the legal system and the approach of all governments,” he said.

“We need to make sure that it is not women who are responsible, but men as well, to change their behavior,” he added.

Responding to protesters’ calls for violence against women to be classified as a national emergency, Mr Albanese said the classification was normally used during floods or bushfires to release a temporary cash injection.

“We don’t need one month or two months, we need to tackle this problem seriously, week after week, month after month, year after year,” he said.

His comments were met with a mix of heckles and cheers,

But Australia’s federal attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has rejected a royal commission into gender-based violence.

Mr. Albanese has repeatedly called gender-based violence an epidemic, but it is not new: in 2021, marches were held across the country following allegations of sexual misconduct in government.

Recent murders have brought the issue back to the forefront.

Earlier this month, a man stabbed six people to death at a Sydney shopping centre. Five of the victims were women and police are investigating whether they were the target.

A total of 27 women were killed in the first 119 days of 2024, according to data compiled by campaign group Destroy the Joint.

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, Similar protests took place in Sydney on Saturday.

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