Where does violence against women originate?


Patsy Stevenson, Sarah Everard, police, violence against women

Many people were both shocked and surprised by the intensity of police aggression at a recent vigil for murdered London woman Sarah Everard.

When I saw the disturbing photo of Patsy Stevenson being pinned to the ground by male police officers, only days after one of their colleagues had been arrested for Everard's murder, the first thing that came to mind were scenes I had witnessed and photographed myself half way around the world in Australia.

It is important to think about it from the viewpoint of the police. This is not what they sign up for. They are acting on orders that come from the highest level of Government.

The set of photos published below come from an event in 1998. Smart phones didn't exist back then and digital cameras had only begun to appear. Very few students carried any form of camera and police could act with impunity. By chance, I lived across the road and I was shooting on a traditional SLR with film in it.

The former Premier is well known for his military service. From time to time, an officer needs to show the troops and the enemy who is really in charge, as Lieutenant General Morrison did in this viral video.

Police were summoned to guard the building where the Premier would be speaking. Two minutes before he arrived, police received a call that he wanted to go in the front door. They had to remove their barricades, beat up the unarmed students and roll out a red carpet. Police had no time to contemplate the risks inherent in this strategy.

The brazen arrival of the state's most senior political figure may have been appropriate in a war zone. It was not appropriate in a university. In most cases, VIP guests arrive at events in an inconspicuous vehicle with tinted windows and enter through a door backstage. Australia's police are experienced professionals who would have presented the Premier with a range of strategies. The Premier's request for a red carpet put these unarmed young women and the police horses at risk.

We see exactly the same leadership style in certain free software organizations. A scorched-earth policy of defamation to build a personality cult.

As Lieutenant General Morrison put it in that video,

the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

An expression that can be applied literally to the Premier walking over these women.

Melbourne, 1998

University of Melbourne, Premier, female victim University of Melbourne, Premier, female victim University of Melbourne, Premier, police University of Melbourne, Premier, female victim

London, 2021

Patsy Stevenson, Sarah Everard, police, violence against women