People Are Outraged At ‘The Australian’ For Saying A Murdered Woman Had “Nagged” Her Husband
"Many men experience stress and other challenges, but they do not murder their partners"
Last week, Renxi Ouyang was murdered and stuffed inside a freezer in her Sydney home.
She was the victim of a horrible crime, and her death has received widespread coverage — some of it careful and balanced, and some of it reeking of victim blaming.
The opening paragraph of The Australian’s article about the murder described Renxi as a “strong, aggressive” person who often “nagged” her husband, who was described as “quietly spoken”.
In the 21st century women are still blamed for their own deaths at the hand of their partners. And men wonder why women are angry.
— Thoroughly Secular Sadie (@Mrs_Quickly) December 1, 2019
This is not how you frame the circumstances surrounding a woman’s murder and you know it.
— Amplify Magazine (@MagazineAmplify) November 30, 2019
Renxi’s name wasn’t even mentioned until the third paragraph.
There was immediate, justifiable backlash to the way the story was reported.
I don’t really care how the victim behaved, @deborahcornwall & @australian, someone murdered her, & put her in that freezer. You shame yourself by writing it to imply ANYTHING different. Suggest you read @JaneTribune‘s book #FixedIt and get better at your job. #VAW pic.twitter.com/gybX29GySz
— Jackie McMillan (@MissDissentEats) November 30, 2019
Love a bit of victim blaming. Top work.
— 💧Selina McGrath (@mydalilife) November 30, 2019
It’s the “she had it coming to her” trope, again
— rog (@roger_f) November 30, 2019
‘A woman was killed in horrendous circumstances by her husband, who then went on the run with his two poor motherless children, leaving her body frozen for others to find’. There, I fixed it for you #theaustralian
— Kiki (@nel_kiki) November 30, 2019
Police found Renxi’s body on Wednesday after concerns were raised for her welfare — neighbours reported hearing yelling and screaming from their apartment last Sunday.
By the time she was discovered her husband Haoling “Andrew” Luo had been gone for 24 hours after boarding a plane to China’s Sichuan province on Tuesday, with the couple’s two children, aged four and six.
Yep, I couldn’t believe the reporting of this murder. There is just nothing in the story that provides any respect or dignity to the victim at all. No consideration for her children who will one day read this awful epitaph online. #Shame
— Jenny Aitchison (@jenny_aitchison) December 1, 2019
So far 51 women have been killed this year by a current or former partner.
Talking to Junkee, Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly points out that “poor media reporting practices can contribute to this condoning of violence.”
“It’s crucial that reporting on family violence does not excuse the perpetrator, for example by focusing on how stressed they were, their financial problems, or other difficulties. Many men experience stress and other challenges, but they do not murder their partners.”
“Equally, it is unacceptable to portray a victim in ways that could be seen as justifying the violence, by implying that a woman provoked or deserved it. After all, as a community, we would say there is never an excuse for such violence.”
Men should be offended when someone says that women should prevent rape by not wearing certain things or not going certain places or not acting in a certain way. This presumes that it takes effort for you not to rape someone… This presumes that your natural state is RAPIST. pic.twitter.com/1DzQCzgQBd
— Dr Michael Flood (@MichaelGLFlood) November 28, 2019
Our Watch is a national, independent not-for-profit organisation which aims to drive nationwide change in the culture, behaviours and power imbalances that lead to violence against women and children.
Patty said while media reporting is now less likely to include descriptions about what a victim was wearing, many still include “uninformed comments” from friends or neighbours who did not have an accurate picture of what was happening in the relationship.
“Many reports still include uninformed comments from neighbours or friends of the perpetrator describing them as good blokes, or labelling the violence as out of character,” she said.
“We know that most violence against women that ends up in the news is the end result of an ongoing escalation of abuse, and family violence is typically hidden behind closed doors. Neighbours and friends are rarely accurate, unbiased sources for what was really happening in a relationship.”
The Our Watch website also includes resources that journalists can rely on when reporting on domestic violence issues.
Thank you to all those who have pointed to our media reporting guidelines following the recent reporting of the murder of Renxi Ouyang. We must ensure that reporting on #VAW does not further harm victim-survivors AND is part of the solution.
— Our Watch (@OurWatchAus) December 2, 2019
The concept of the nagging wife is not a new one, and has been used for years to criticise women while also failing to recognise the burden of emotional labour that often falls on them.
@deborahcornwall I nag my husband to get him to do chores so I don’t have to do all of the unpaid labour at home as well as working full time. Is this how you would report on me if I was killed by DV? Maybe put one of my life accomplishments in the first para instead please?
— Lyndsay Freeman (@LyndsayFreeman8) November 30, 2019
Can’t bear the word ‘nag’. It’s just a nasty, misogynistic word meaning to repeat yourself when you’re ignored … if you’re female. What a heartbreaking story. 💙
— Tara (@Tara83334984) December 1, 2019
“Remember ladies, if you nag your husband it’s your fault I’d you end up murdered and stuffed in a freezer.”
— Monstrous Femme (@TheLadyLycan) December 1, 2019
Haoling Luo is currently being questioned by Chinese police, and NSW detectives are working to extradite him back to Australia. No charges have been laid.
On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. For sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling services call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).