Something Brutal Happened On Saturday Night That Was More Important Than Politics
As we gathered around our TVs or frantically refreshed our social media on Saturday evening, to watch the astounding news that polls cannot predict elections, there was a murder in the Sydney suburb of Randwick.
At 8.45 pm on May 18, emergency services found 47-year-old nurse Gihan Kerollos unresponsive, with multiple stab wounds, close to the entrance of the Prince of Wales Hospital. She died there.
A 60-year-old man, Mourad Kerollos -- her husband -- has been charged with the murder.
In the language of police reporting, it barely touches the sides of our consciousness. It just appears to be another “domestic violence-related” incident.
We’re so immune to what it really means because of number fatigue. In 2018, 69 women were killed by the partner or former partner. That’s way more than one a week.
But there was an election, so the story of how and why Gihan came to be stabbed to death, allegedly by her own husband, in her own street, won’t be properly told.
There won’t be enough horror and outrage. And there won’t be any change.
This year, we’re up to 19 women dead already -- well on track to stay above the horror level of one a week.
There’s simply no doubt that if one man a week was being murdered by a female partner or former partner, there’d be a bit more of fuss about what the hell was going on.
We don’t know the backstory of what happened in Randwick. But alienation, rage, frustration and isolation may have been factors.
Let’s consider the uncomfortable truth of what “multiple stab wounds” really means. A weapon. A frenzy. Screaming. Pleading. Silence.
The victim was allegedly his own wife. In Randwick. On election night. She died in a pool of her own blood in the street.
Assuming police allegations are made out, this picture of Gihan and Mourad is chilling in its normalcy. There were clearly recent times when they were happy and relaxed in each other’s company. They look like people who said “I love you” to each other a lot.
The fresh Morrison government, resurrected in the moments Gihan died, has pledged an extra $328 million over three years to fight domestic violence, matching Labor’s election commitment.
“A culture of disrespect towards women is a precursor to violence, and anyone who doesn’t see that is kidding themselves,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison in March.
No matter whether you think “How good is ScoMo?!” or are investigating the cost of flights to New Zealand right now, you have to concede that, on this point, he’s bang on.
It is these horrific numbers that moves the discussion on gender equality from the area of lefty-righty Twitter arguments into a much more important category: that of life and death.
If my 20-year-old daughter is ever murdered, I already know who did it. A man.
It is men who are bashing and killing and controlling. Women are right to fear us all. How do they know who is going to kill them, and who is not? If you’re a woman alone, it is absolutely all men who are a threat.
Just last weekend, I was out at dinner and got a text from my daughter, asking me to call. She’d been chased by a man on the train station at inner-west Sydney suburb Burwood, who had said things to her too vile to write here. She was “a bit rattled but fine”, she said, once she found the safety of a crowd.
The fact that abuse from men is so regular for her -- something so normal that she gets over it quickly, something she knows will happen again -- is a disgrace.
We should all hang our heads in shame.
As Morrison said, it’s the “culture of disrespect” towards women at the core of the carnage.
It’s also because of an environment where men are caught up in the performance of manhood, the act of manliness, to the point where they can’t and won’t communicate. We are cut off from our own emotions and the support of those around us.
If the man who killed Gihan had someone to call, someone around him asking if he was OK, something, anything to somehow release the fatal pressure that was building, maybe Gihan would be alive.
The moment that man lost control of himself was fleeting. It would have passed. How little would it have taken to get them through it?
What a tragedy.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, dial 000. If you need help and advice, call 1800Respect on 1800 737 732, or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
A range of domestic and family violence resources based around the country can be found here.
Phil Barker is the author of The Revolution of Man.