Politics

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"

renxi ouyang The Australian

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”.

Renxi’s name wasn’t even mentioned until the third paragraph.

There was immediate, justifiable backlash to the way the story was reported.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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).