I had a whole other post planned for today but in the wake of the news about Jill Meagher, writing about anything else seems trivial. So I am stepping off topic today and dedicating this post to Jill a woman I never met but who sadly could have been any woman who on Friday 21st September chose to go out with friends in Brunswick inner city Melbourne for drinks and walk home alone at night.
For those who don't follow news stories you may not want to read ahead because it is a story of great tragedy. Jill Meagher is a 29 year old woman who lived in Melbourne and last Friday night went out after work for drinks with friends at a bar in an inner city suburb of Melbourne and never returned home. After leaving the bar at 1am Jill was abducted, raped and murdered.
What happened to Jill and why or how it could have happened is beyond comprehension as is the depth of the grief that lays ahead for her family and friends.
There has been much commentary in the media and on social network sites about women walking alone at night. Social commentator and broadcaster Catherine Deveny writes about Jill's story here.
The safety and vulnerability of women walking alone at night is not a new conversation. Deveny makes the point in her commentary that 'what happened to Jill is horrible but not common'.
I have marched in 'Reclaim the Night' marches, I have a degree in Women's Studies and have lived in the suburb that Jill was abducted from and walked those streets alone at night.
I am looking for something in all the horridness of this story that is not about whether or not Jill should or shouldn't have left the bar alone of course she should be able to walk a city street alone but the reality is that being out at night after a few drinks whether you are a woman or a man we all need to look out for each other.
The randomness and depravity of the act committed by Jill's attacker is uncommon yes.
The need to look out for each other, male or female, in our Australian drinking culture is a common need. If your instinct is to walk a friend home, call them a cab or drive them home act on your instinct and if your mates want to look out for you whether you are a man or a woman let them.