Daily Bulletin


The Conversation

  • Written by Jude McCulloch, Professor of Criminology, Monash University

The Victorian government recently announced a new A$31.6 million centre to prevent and combat terrorist and lone-actor attacks. The centre will include specialist police, forensic and mental health experts, and a senior analyst to respond to people who pose such a risk.

However, the new centre will not include experts on family violence and other forms of violence against women. Failure to understand the links between lone-actor and terrorist violence and violence against women will undermine the centre’s effectiveness.

Lone-actor attacks and violence against women

The links between terrorist attacks and violence against women, most commonly family violence, are now well established.

Research in the US shows more than 50% of mass shootings in that country between 2009 and 2014 were preceded by the perpetrator’s murder of an intimate (ex)partner, or a family member. In addition, 16% of the attackers, overwhelmingly men, had been charged with domestic violence.

Read more: Explainer: why some acts are classified as terrorism but others aren't

Infamously, Man Haron Monis, the gunman in the 2014 Sydney Lindt Café siege, was on bail at the time of the siege for dozens of sex offences, and for being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife.

This history of violence against women is evident in the biographies of other terrorists. These include one of the Tsarnaev brothers, responsible for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings; Omar Mateen, who attacked a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people in 2016; Khalid Masood, who crashed his car into pedestrians and stabbed a police officer in London in 2017; and Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, who killed 80 people in Nice, France, in 2016.

We won't stop lone-actor attacks until we understand violence against women Police on the streets of London in the aftermath of the 2017 attack near parliament. See Li/AAP

Most media profiles, reflecting the focus of security experts and many academics, treat these histories of violence against women as mere detail. Even scholars who acknowledge the growing evidence of a correlation between violence against women and terrorism and lone-actor attacks fail to understand its full significance.

The authors of The Age of Lone Wolf Terrorism, for example, approach the violence against women that so often precedes more public attacks as merely a “precursor to crime”.

The lone wolves they examine – many of whom have histories of violence against women – are seen as “deeply troubled men” who turned violent, rather than violent men who went on to commit violence against the wider community.

Throughout this book, male violence against women is described in terms such as “marital discord” or “personal conflict with a woman”. A female partner, suffering physical and psychological violence at the hands of a man who would go on to commit an act of terrorism, is described as an “enabler” because she did not report his plans to authorities.

This characterisation highlights a misunderstanding of the nature, dynamics and seriousness of family violence.

Failure to see violence against women as “violence” was tragically apparent in the case of the 2014 Sydney siege. Despite Monis’ history of sex crimes and involvement in the murder of his ex-wife, the lead siege negotiator said he believed the sex crimes were “passive” and indicated the sex offences didn’t suggest to him a history of violence.

A psychiatrist providing advice to police managing the siege described these same crimes as “acts of seduction”. Such characterisations of violence against women as essentially non-violent influenced the tactical decisions made by police managing the siege, meaning the threat Monis posed was not fully appreciated.

Why the centre must take violence against women seriously

If, as announced, the new centre against lone-actor attacks is designed to “keep the community safe”, it needs to have a clear focus on understanding violence against women and family violence.

It is concerning that none of the experts listed to form the new centre appears to hold specific expertise in gendered violence.

We won't stop lone-actor attacks until we understand violence against women The centre to prevent terrorist and lone-actor attacks does not appear to involve experts in family violence. James Ross/AAP

The Andrews government has made a massive investment in changing approaches to family violence and violence against women, in response to landmark recommendations by the Royal Commission into Family Violence. The state government is taking violence against women seriously.

Read more: Victoria leads the way on family violence, but Canberra needs to lift its game

However, the distinction that continues to be drawn between public violence such as terrorism and lone-actor attacks, and violence against women, belies this commitment, undermining the safety and security of all.

The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line – 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

Authors: Jude McCulloch, Professor of Criminology, Monash University

Read more http://theconversation.com/we-wont-stop-lone-actor-attacks-until-we-understand-violence-against-women-92923

Writers Wanted

Social activity can be good for mental health, but whether you benefit depends on how many friends you have

arrow_forward

Top science prize for 2020 goes to Aussie physicists who helped detect distortions in space-time

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Business News

AppDynamics Solves Visibility Gap Between Traditional Infrastructure and Cloud Environments

New Full Stack Observability Platform, Integration With Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer and Cloud Native Visualisation Features Provide Cross Domain Insights and Analytics of Business Perfor...

Hotwire Global - avatar Hotwire Global

Why Your Small Business Should Bulk Buy Hand Sanitiser

As a small business owner, employee and customer safety is at the very top of your priority list. From risk assessments to health and safety officers, appropriate signage and proper briefing...

News Co - avatar News Co

How Phone Number Search In Sydney Can Help Your Business

To run a successful business, keeping track of your company and competitors are the major factors. With a lot of tools, available businesses have options to stay current. One way in which busine...

News Co - avatar News Co



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion