Almost 200 people attended the Reclaim Rosalind Park Candlelight Vigil For Eurydice Dixon event on Monday night.
Organiser Stacey Dean said it was important to reclaims the public space following the alleged rape and murder of 22-year-old Eurydice Dixon in Carlton last week.
“Rosalind Park is a big, beautiful park in the middle of town and a lot of women don't feel safe walking through here at night in part because of sexual assaults that have occurred in this park,” she said.
Ms Dean said she had never organised a community event like this before.
“As women especially, we have been victims ourselves or know survivors of attacks like what Eurydice went through,” she said.
“The main driver for me was that we need to speak up about it and do things about it to make people aware.
“I thought it might have been me and a few friends. I wasn't prepared to organise something of this scale but I'm glad people are coming out for it and show their support. It means a lot.”
Ms Dean hoped the vigil would also encourage men to take notice and talk about the issues such as women feeling safe in public.
“One of the key messages is education. I think it is important for men to be involved in the discussion and come to events like this to hear what it is like for women,” she said.
To seek support contact 1800RESPECT or Loddon Campaspe Centre Against Sexual Assault on 1800 806 292.
Centre Against Sexual Assault CEO hopes vigil will challenge gendered stereotypes
Breaking down and challenging gendered stereotypes attached to sexual assault and family violence takes the work of the whole community.
That was the message Loddon Campaspe Centre Against Sexual Assault chief executive Kate Wright hoped got across at the Reclaim Rosalind Park Candlelight Vigil For Eurydice Dixon on Monday night.
“One of the key messages was that random attacks are not what we should be focusing on,” she said.
“Sexual assaults are predominately done by people we know. (A random attack) is a rare occurrence but it is powerful because it means the community gets involved.
“It is gendered violence – men’s violence against women – that we need to work at across all systems and at all levels of our community.
“Working with young people, our own children and our friends and family is very important.”
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The Bendigo vigil, which was attended by almost 200 people, brings the community closer, Ms Wright said.
“It gives them the opportunity to express themselves around this issue in a physical way in addition to the conceptual reading and watching of the news cycles,” she said. “It shows this is a tangible way of connecting with others.”
Ms Wright said she hoped the community would start challenging stereotypes such as victim blaming.
“(People’s views) range from victim blaming to saying women should have the right to walk where they want to,” Ms Wright said.
“We have to keep challenging victim blaming and say ‘does the fact that a women is wearing something in a certain locality give someone else the right to attack and kill her? No it doesn't.’
“We should challenge the stereotypes like men are raised to be assertive and in control from a young age, that women are conditioned to be compliant and non-challenging.
“We see (gendered stereotypes) play out in school yards, the workforce, sporting clubs as well as in the broader community. We all have to challenge that.”
Ms Wright commended organiser Stacey Dean and the nearly 200 people that attended Monday evening’s vigil.
“It is great people came out on a cold night. It means they are really committed to wanting to express themselves around this issue,” she said.
“(Participating is) really important. Ticking you’re interested is one thing but showing up is the main part of it. Stacey being active has generated a whole lot of attention and she has done a great job.”
To seek support contact 1800RESPECT, the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service on 1800 737 732.