Australia: capitalism can’t solve epidemic of violence against women

Across Australia, tens of thousands have demonstrated over the last week against a significant rise in violence against women, with one woman being killed by an intimate partner every four days so far this year. These sickening crimes have evoked a righteous anger against the daily oppression and violence suffered by women across the country, yet the ruling class and the system they represent have offered nothing but hypocrisy, hollow consolation and barefaced arrogance in return.

The current wave of demonstrations was catalysed by a series of recent crimes, including the murder of 28-year-old Molly Ticehurst by a man who had only just been charged with raping and stalking her. The murder took place immediately after he was released on a mere AUS$5,000 (£2,500) bail, despite being charged with multiple counts of sexual assault and stalking.

Similarly, only this week, 30-year-old Erica Hay was brutally beaten and left to die by her partner, as he burnt down their home and fled the scene.

The cancerous growth of domestic violence in Australia has been mirrored by other attacks, such as the Bondi Junction stabbings in mid-April, in which a man roamed a public shopping centre for 20 minutes, injuring 12 and murdering six people. Police said that it was “obvious” that the killer was targeting women.

What has become abundantly clear is that the police and the capitalist state are utterly unwilling and incapable of protecting women. Despite its prevalence throughout the country, conviction rates for domestic violence in Australia are 15 percent lower than for other forms of violence.

In 2021 – a year which saw a record low for domestic violence in Australia13 women were hospitalised every day due to violence from a partner or family member. Since then, these numbers have only risen, with latest figures showing a 30 percent rise in the number of Australian women killed by domestic violence from June 2022 to June 2023 compared to the previous year. Astonishingly, the first four months of 2024 has seen almost as many women killed by their partners as the entirety of the 12 months prior to June 2023.

Fundamentally, in Australia as in all countries, women are being subjected to greater and more brutal oppression, which manifests in the most horrific forms. Already in March this year, a survey showed that barely 50 percent of Australian women feel safe walking alone at night. This puts Australia seventh lowest in terms of women’s perception of their own safety, out of the 38 OECD countries.

This is the shameful reality of life for women in the ‘Lucky Country’. Chants of “We won’t take it anymore!” at recent protests show the true mood in society. Thousands refuse to sit idly by any longer as the pressure on women from oppression worsens daily with the deepening of the social and economic crisis of the whole system.

“I am the prime minister. I run this country”

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III joins President Joe Biden, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan for a bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the AUKUS Optimal Pathway in San Diego, Calif, March 13, 2023. (DoD photo by Chad J. McNeeley)Prime Minister Anthony Albanese displayed the entire ruling class’ utter contempt this week / Image: U.S. Secretary of Defence, Wikimedia Commons

In response to this explosion of violence, the rotten Australian ruling class has shown its true colours. Both the Labor government and the Liberal/National opposition are at pains to decry the ‘national crisis’ facing women, yet these same parties are irredeemably part of the problem.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese displayed the entire ruling class’ utter contempt this week, while attending a demonstration of thousands outside Parliament House in Canberra. After being heckled for his silence on what can be done to support women, Albanese’s ‘friendly’ demeanour rapidly vanished.

“Do you want me to speak or not? I am the prime minister. I run this country,” he reportedly stated, before seizing the microphone and bringing the demonstration’s lead organiser to floods of tears by claiming that she had attempted to deny him the right to speak – a claim which organisers branded an “outright lie”.

Such incredible self-centred callousness at a demonstration on the question of women’s violence gives just a glimpse of the psychology of arrogance and impunity that prevails among Australia’s ruling class. This week, Labor MP Darren Cheeseman was removed from his position as parliamentary secretary for education in Victoria, due to accusations of “persistent, inappropriate behaviour”, with multiple anonymous sources confirming it is of a sexual nature.

On top of all this, in early April, a civil court ruled that former Liberal Party staffer Bruce Lehrmann had raped his colleague Brittany Higgins in Parliament House itself in 2019, while she was drunk and barely conscious. This is the closest that Lehrmann has come to being prosecuted, since two previous criminal trials against him were abandoned.

Responding to the immense wave of protests at the time these allegations arose in 2021, then Prime Minister Scott Morrison infamously stated that it is a “triumph of democracy” that peaceful protesters hadn’t been shot by the police!

This is the true face of Australia’s ruling class, who do nothing about the plague of violence facing women across the country and then pat themselves on the back for not murdering civilian protesters.

Albanese may be right when he says that he “runs the country”, but who does he run it for? Certainly not for the countless women who are afraid to be alone on the streets of what is supposed to be a developed, enlightened, democratic country. Rather, Albanese’s party and their friends in the ‘Opposition’ are firmly united in their defence of the profits of Australian capitalism. The complaints of working women fearing for their own lives are a small political nuisance to this crowd.

The arrogance of the Australian ruling class

Rally against Violence Image Robbi Davidson TwitterCapitalist politicians cry nothing but crocodile tears for women’s oppression / Image: Robbi Davidson, Twitter

Such is the stinking hypocrisy of the capitalist politicians, who cry nothing but crocodile tears for women’s oppression, that the Sydney Morning Herald recently published an editorial titled: “Please, ministers, spare us your pathetic platitudes on the domestic violence crisis”. It speaks volumes about the ruling class’ fear of the outrage in society that the arrogance and stupidity of their own representatives is provoking, that even the capitalist press feels the need to chastise politicians for their behaviour.

In truth, the egos of Australia’s ruling class have grown fat off years of relative stability. The cosiness of the two-party system has brought with it an arrogance and a sense of untouchability that manifests at best in the temper tantrums of the Prime Minister, and at worst in obscene abuses of power that leave women harassed and even assaulted by politicians. But the period of relative economic stability – linked to Australia’s trade relationship with its biggest export partner, China – which underpins the relative political stability that has prevailed until now in Australia, is coming to an end as the Chinese economy lurches towards a crisis.

With every scandal and incident, the ruling class is unwittingly chipping away at its own legitimacy. The recent wave of demonstrations has graphically demonstrated that a growing number of people have come to see this broken system for what it really is, and are demanding change. The era of relative class peace and stability are ending.

Women in Australia will not be protected by new laws, greater policing, or a ‘Royal Commission’. The crimes they face are a noxious product of a decaying system. Only by materially liberating women, providing not only shelters, but good wages, maternity and elder care, financial independence and the right to housing, can women be freed from potentially abusive partners. Capitalism poisons the well of human relations, including relations between men and women. Only by fighting to overthrow this system can we achieve real freedom for all the oppressed, and above all for women.

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