With chilling clarity, Jill Meagher’s husband has answered the question that has surely hammered him since Adrian Bayley raped and murdered his wife – how could this have happened?
“I’m aware his previous victims in previous cases before Jill were sex workers, and I’ll never be convinced that doesn’t have something to do with the lenience of his sentence,” he said on the day Bayley was sentenced. “Put it like this: if he’d raped five people like Jill that many times in that brutal a fashion, I don’t think he would have served eight years in prison.”
Meagher has given voice to an issue that is seldom spoken of in Australia – the normalisation, and acceptance, of violence against women in the sex industry.
Working at Project Respect, an organisation challenging violence against women in the sex industry, we see this everyday. In the last two years, we have made 631 visits to 71 licenced and unlicenced brothels in Victoria, been in contact with 1,709 women in the sex industry, and provided 2,637 hours of counselling. When women talk to us, two themes are constant – violence and stigma. [Rest.]