Thousands Rally for Women's Safety in Australia After Rape and Murder of Israeli Student

Australians took to Sydney's street on the same day as the Women's March to demand safer streets for women in wake of 21-year-old Aya Masarwe's death

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Aya Masarwe's father Saeed Masarwe (right) at the vigil for his daughter, Melbourne, Australia, January 18, 2019.
Aya Masarwe's father Saeed Masarwe (right) at the vigil for his daughter, Melbourne, Australia, January 18, 2019. Credit: \ STRINGER/ REUTERS

Several thousand people marched through major Australia cities on Sunday calling for safety for women after an Israeli exchange student was murdered in Melbourne.

The marches, part of the Women’s March rallies held around the world in support of women’s rights, gathered some 3,000 people in Sydney, who in their chants demanded safe streets for women in Australian cities.

Aya Masarwe, 21, was killed when walking home after a night out with friends in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, earlier this week. A 20-year-old man was charged with her murder.

Maasarwe’s death recharged outrage over violence against women after 22-year-old Eurydice Dixon was killed in Melbourne while walking home after performing at a comedy show in June.

Thousands of people gathered at vigils for Masarwe on Friday and continued to lay flowers at the site of her death. A special tram carrying only flowers late on Friday followed the route of Masarwe’s final journey.

In Sydney on Sunday marchers held signs paying tribute to Masarwe and other victims of violence. Television news showed women carrying signs: “For Aya and for those who suffer silently” and “I wanna walk through the park in the dark”.

“I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a world where she’s unsafe or she can’t pursue the opportunities she wants and I march for my son because I don’t want him to grow up in a world where toxic masculinity is acceptable,” said Samantha Nolan-Smith, one of several hundred protesters in the Australian capital Canberra, reported Australian Broadcasting Corp.

In reaction to Masarwe’s death, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government would announce another “action plan” to stem violence against women ahead of an election expected by May, on top of A$350 million ($252 million) that has already been committed.