‘I am fuming, how dare they:’ Mother of Jill Meagher who was raped and murdered while walking home slams Dan Andrews’ proposed laws that would BAN her from speaking out about her daughter
- Edith McKeon, Jill Meagher’s mother, has slammed Dan Andrews proposed laws
- Murderers and rapists could soon be protected by victim gag laws in Victoria
- Families and friends of dead victims would not be able to share their stories
- Ms Meagher was raped and murdered while walking home in Melbourne in 2012
- Individuals and media outlets and journalists could both be fined or jailed
- It comes after state introduced laws silencing sex abuse survivors in February
The mother of rape and murder victim Jill Meagher has slammed Dan Andrews’ proposed laws that would ban her from speaking out about her daughter.
Families of dead rape victims could soon be jailed for publicly naming victims or criminals under new gag laws being proposed by the Victorian Government.
If the legislation passes through parliament, media outlets and family members would also be forced to remove any online references to victims.
Edith McKeon, Ms Meagher’s mother, took to Facebook on Tuesday vowing to fight the proposal, which she labelled ‘just wrong’.
Jill Meagher was a 29-year-old Irishwoman living in Australia when she was raped and murdered in 2012
Edith McKeon (pictured) has spoken out against the Victorian Government’s new proposed gag laws banning families from publicly naming victims of crime or offenders
‘It’s such a heartache on all of us who lost our precious ones,’ she wrote on Facebook.
‘I am f***ing fuming that they have not even contacted any of the family. How dare they who have not been in that situation, which I would not want on any parent.
‘Gillian would have been 38 next Saturday and would have been a brilliant mum.
‘We will fight it.’
Families of slain women including Jill Meagher, Eurydice Dixon, Aiia Maasarwe and Courtney Herron would no longer be able to speak out about their brutal deaths, The Australian reported.
Articles or references to how they died or the moments leading up to their deaths in the media would have to be wiped clean, or journalists risk being sent to prison.
Aiia Maasarwe was on her way home in Melbourne in January 2019 when she was raped and murdered by Codey Herrmann after getting off a tram in Bundoora
Similarly, families of future victims would have no rights in addressing criminals or speaking about their heartache in the media or on their own social media profiles.
Families of sex abuse victims who died by suicide would also not be able to speak out using their real names in case they indirectly identified the victim.
The legislation has been put before parliament as an amendment to a previous law which gagged living sex abuse survivors.
Under current laws, any victim who wants to publicly speak about their own trauma has to seek a court order, which is costly and could take months to obtain.
Survivors cannot use their real names or photos from the time charges are laid under new laws introduced in February.
22-year-old Eurydice Dixon was stalked for more than an hour and raped and murdered in Carlton North’s Princes Park by a stranger later identified as Jaymes Todd, 19
One of the victims who was impacted by the law previously told Daily Mail Australia she felt like the ruling was a ‘genuinely masterful job at gaslighting survivors’.
‘This [law] is a deterrent for survivors to come forward. And it’s a very real incentive for men to keep offending,’ she said.
‘The thing about sexual violence is that it thrives on silence and shame.
‘And that is what this law has done. There are young people watching this in the public arena, and the message they’re getting is that they will lose the right to their own name.
‘It actually places the government on the side of the perpetrator because it silences the survivors.’
But Victoria’s Attorney-General Jill Hennessy made these amendments to the law hoping to ‘enhance… the privacy of deceased victims and their families’.
After Ms Dixon’s death, Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) vowed to help keep women safe
More than 200,000 people have signed a petition launched by the #LetUsSpeak campaign to have the laws reformed.
Michael Bradley from Marque Lawyers, who have helped victims gain the right to tell their stories in Victoria since the introduction of the laws, told The Australian if the new laws were passed, victims would only suffer further.
He said it would have ‘instant stultifying effect on the media’ and ‘far ranging ramifications for family, friends and others who knew the victim’.
‘In trying to fix one problem they are creating another,’ he said.
Relatives and friends who breach gag laws face up to four months in jail and fines of $3,304, while news outlets or businesses face fines of up to $8,261.
Victims’ advocate Nina Funnell said victims and their families were not consulted regarding the proposed laws.
What we couldn’t tell you under Victoria’s potential new gag laws
Pictured: Eurydice Dixon
In 2018, 22-year-old Eurydice Dixon was stalked for more than an hour and raped and murdered in Carlton North’s Princes Park by a stranger later identified as Jaymes Todd, 19.
She had spent the night performing in a comedy club and was walking home after her performance.
Todd was sentenced to life behind bars with a non parole period of 35 years – a sentence which he argued was ‘manifestly excessive’ due to his youth and previously clean record.
Todd was obsessed with and addicted to a fantasy of ‘coercive rape’ which escalated to include fantasies of death, and he searched the internet for snuff films which depicted violent sexual encounters ending in death.
Pictured: Aiia Maasarwe
Aiia Maasarwe was on her way home in Melbourne in January 2019 when she was raped and murdered by Codey Herrmann after getting off a tram in Bundoora.
Herrmann repeatedly beat Ms Maasarwe over the head with a metal pole and sexually assaulted her, before covering her body in flammable WD-40 spray and setting her alight.
The pair did not know one another.
He was sentenced to 36 years in prison with a non-parole period of 30 years for the horrific crime.
Pictured: Courtney Herron
In May 2019, 25-year-old homeless woman Courtney Herron was murdered by another rough-sleeper, Henry Hammond, in a park.
Ms Herron was beaten with a stick for up to 50 minutes before her legs were tied together and she was dragged into a clearing and covered with branches, giving her what he described to police as a ‘symbolic burial’.
Hammond was found not guilty of the crime in August 2020 after a judge agreed he was mentally unwell at the time.
Members of the public lay floral tributes at the site where Ms Herron’s body was found, which was a short distance from Princes Park, where Eurydice Dixon’s body was found less than a year earlier.
She had been the fourth woman killed in a public place in Victoria in the previous 12 months.
Pictured: Jill Meagher
Ms Meagher was a 29-year-old Irishwoman living in Australia when she was raped and murdered in 2012.
Her case was initially treated as a missing person after she failed to return home to her husband, but her body was discovered by Victorian police six days later.
Adrian Ernest Bayley pleaded guilty to raping and murdering her and he was sentenced to life behind bars.
His non-parole period was later extended after he was convicted of three other sex crimes.
Ms Meagher’s death saw thousands take to the streets in unity in the hope of somehow willing the end of violence against women.
So far in 2020, 45 women have been killed, along with 21 children and 112 men. Of those deaths, 199 suspects are male and 26 are female.
The nation mourned the deaths of Aiia Maasarwe, Eurydice Dixon and Courtney Herron, who were all killed in Melbourne by men while walking alone at night in 2018 and 2019.
After Ms Dixon’s death, Superintendent David Clayton was slammed for encouraging women to have ‘more situational awareness’ while walking in public.
‘So just make sure you have situational awareness, that you’re aware of your surroundings,’ Clayton said. ‘If you’ve got a mobile phone carry it and if you’ve got any concerns, call police.’
The message prompted a scathing response from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who made it an election promise in 2014 to do more to keep women safe.
‘We’ll keep asking ”Why was she alone in the dark?” instead of asking ”Why was he?”. We’ll keep ignoring the real problem, instead of actually fixing it. So our message to Victorian women is this: Stay home. Or don’t,’ he said.
‘Go out with friends at night. Or don’t. Go about your day exactly as you intend, on your terms. Because women don’t need to change their behaviour. Men do.’
But under the new regulations which could soon be passed under Mr Andrews’ watch, victims and their families could again feel silenced and like they’ve been encouraged to ‘change their behaviour’ to accommodate.
In May 2019, 25-year-old homeless woman Courtney Herron was murdered by another rough-sleeper, Henry Hammond, in a park
What is the #LetUsSpeak campaign?
The #LetUsSpeak campaign was created by journalist and sex abuse survivor Nina Funnell after researching gag laws in Tasmania and the Northern Territory which prohibited victims from sharing their stories.
Funnell, in partnership with End Rape on Campus Australia, Rape and Sexual Assault Research and Advocacy and Marque Lawyers, has supported victims across state borders in winning the right to their own names and stories.
After successfully campaigning for reform in both Tasmania and the Northern Territory, Funnell learned Victoria had introduced similar reforms to legislation.
She is now campaigning to reverse the laws and allow thousands of Victorian victims the freedom to share their stories.
So far, her team has helped grant exemptions to four people, but they are still in the process of obtaining court orders for six more victims.