I feel that I ought to have an opinion about Gillian Meagher, and the way her life was taken from her.
Like so many people, I cried when I learned that Jill had not been found alive.
I cried for the journalist, her colleague whose job it was to report the news that night, who possibly knew more than he was allowed to report, and probably more than he wanted to know.
I cried for the colleague who had been with her that night, who had offered to walk her home, and who will spend the rest of his life haunted by that tiny decision to accept her refusal.
I cried for her friends and her colleagues.
I cried for her family; her mother and father, who had lost so much; a daughter, grandchildren and all the milestones parents are entitled to, and I cried for her brother.
I cried for her poor, broken Tom.
And now that the man who stole her life has been sentenced, and the media are free to report all the terrible details, and her husband has spoken publicly, and victim impact statements have been released, and we all try to come to terms with such an unspeakable act, I feel I ought to have an opinion.
But I just don’t know what to say.
Because while I ought to have an enraged opinion, all I have is a profound sadness, and so many questions. Why was that man back on the streets? What were the parole board thinking? Why isn’t someone from the parole board being held accountable? Why wasn’t that man given the maximum penalty for rape? How do her parents, her family and her husband not allow this man to destroy their lives? How do we get the legal system to treat rape victims seriously, and sensitively? Why isn’t rape a hate crime? Why don’t we hang serial sex offenders? Will that man get solitary confinement? How do we stop rape? Why aren’t women enraged by the crimes against them? Where is the feminist lobby group, where are the women of influence and power and why are they not screaming in the streets? And most important of all, how do we take this terrible crime and make something good of it? How do we honour Gillian Meagher? How do we restore her dignity and remember her for all the things those that loved her for, instead of the way her life ended?
In all of the commentary, in all of the reporting and opinions expressed on social media, in all of the chatter and conversation (including my own) about this heartbreaking story, the one voice I’ve never heard is Gillian’s. And now, because the legal system doesn’t appear to value women, I never will.
I didn’t know Gillian Meagher, but she was my Sister. And ultimately, that’s what every tear I’ve shed has been for, the assault and horrific death of another Woman. How many Sisters are we going to lose before we say it stops now and it stops today.