For quite some time now, you’ve been speaking in mellifluous tone on how lack of respect for women is at the root of violence towards us, with particular reference to domestic and family violence.
There are times when listening to your respect defence I imagine I’m in a courtroom. Your political rhetoric is in the nature of a legal argument, designed to convince, persuade and coax a jury into accepting your narrative, and so extend leniency to your client.
Perhaps I might stretch the analogy and describe your client in this instance as The Perpetrator of Domestic Violence. Your Honour, he is not a bad man, he merely needs to be taught how to respect women, at least sufficiently not to kill them.
I assume you believe that you are respectful of women. I don’t believe you are. I believe that to be respectful of anyone requires not only rhetoric but action, that is, doing everything you can for them when you see they are being mistreated by others. Failure to do this is, in your terms, disrespectful. In mine, it is criminally neglectful.
Action has a two-fold effect, Mr Turnbull. It assists the woman under attack, and it demonstrates to the perpetrator how respect is a practice as well as a theory.
You are in a unique position to walk your talk in the matter of respect, yet you seem to be running on the spot.
If you truly respected us you would make funding available for the frontline services we so desperately need to save our lives, our health, our well-being and our children’s well-being when we are faced with a violent man who will harm us, and/or kill us. That would be respectful of you, Mr Turnbull.
That you continue to refuse to make this money available is an act of extreme disrespect for our well-being, and for our very lives.
If you truly believe that lack of respect for women is the root cause of the domestic violence perpetrated upon us, then as leader of this country you must demonstrate active respect for us, if you sincerely want to bring about change. Otherwise you are on the side of the perpetrator.
In depriving us of refuges, community legal centres and ongoing specialist services to assist us and our children to recover from unspeakable trauma, you are signalling to the perpetrators that they are free to continue their savagery, and not only are they likely to get away with it, they are enabled by you to continue, as we have no avenues of escape.
If our government cannot respect us enough to provide the assistance we so desperately need, why should a perpetrator?
I think it was Leo Tolstoy who wrote that respect was invented to fill the place where love should be. His heroine, Anna Karenina, died at his authorial hand, like so many of us die at the hands of the men who control the narrative. You are the man who controls our narrative. You have the power to change our stories. All that is required of you is that you respect us enough to provide resources for our shelter, protection and assistance.
Until you can do that, Mr Turnbull, your rhetoric of respect is a lie, and you, sir, are a liar.