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Police are failing to acknowledge acts of misogynistic terror

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

On April 13 2024, Joel Cauchi entered the Westfield Bondi Junction Mall in Sydney, Australia with a knife and stabbed 18 people, most of whom were identified as women and girls. Yet the police have failed to address this as an “act of terror” with any “ideological motivation” according to the NSW Police Commissioner, Karen Webb. The authorities refuse to believe that this was a terrorist attack, despite the perpetrator setting out to cause unlawful harm to a targeted group in society. This is undoubtedly an example of misogynistic terror — but why are the police so slow to call it out as terrorism?

Murdering women for their gender, otherwise known as femicide, is a form of steadily increasing misogynistic terrorism. On average, a woman or girl is killed every 10 minutes. The UN considers that current ‘progress in stopping such violence has been deeply inadequate’ as misogynistic extremism is clearly on the rise. The increase in misogynistic ideology is furthering hatred for the female gender, often originating from a rise in ‘incel’ culture, in which men are blaming women for their lack of sexual activity. Recent events have seen the police fail to respond adequately to and acknowledge such acts as forms of terrorism. The high profile death of Sarah Everard in 2021 was extremely slow to be connected to any form of terrorism, even though she was murdered by a police officer for being a woman walking home. In 2024, the Met Commissioner said ‘violence against women should be treated like terrorism’. The police need to go beyond treating violence against women like terrorism: they need to call it terrorism. 

Headlines immediately following the Bondi Junction Mall attack in Australia revealed the initial police reaction against naming it as an attack of terror. An AP article was titled, “Australian police probe why man who stabbed 6 people to death in a Sydney mall targeted women” and similarly Le Monde produced the headline “Six killed in Sydney shopping centre attack, assailant identified, no terror motive.” The police have burrowed any ideological motivations of misogyny into the sand, feeding a vision of a mentally ill attacker who committed a one-off crime. The Sydney attacks are a concrete example of gender-based violence, yet the authorities are still questioning the motives for these murders. Although Karen Webb has since confirmed that killer Cauchi targeted females, a lack of acknowledgement to this rise of terrorism against women and girls is failing the pervasion of misogynistic terror. 

Following the Sydney attack, women have been calling for an acknowledgement of what these stabbings represent for society. Laura Bates, author of award-winning book Men Who Hate Women, pointed out the disregard from the police in calling out the stabbings as a terrorist incident. She stated on her Instagram that, “the horrific attack in Australia has demonstrated our societal blind spot to misogynistic terrorism”. Combatting acts of misogynistic terror begins with acknowledgement; systemic changes cannot be achieved until society realises that women are being murdered out of hatred.

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Tilly Frain-Bell

St. Andrews '26

Hi! My name is Tilly and I am a second year student at the University of St Andrews studying French and International relations. During my spare time, I love going to the beach, playing lacrosse and sailing. I am excited to be a part of Her Campus and to expand my experience in the journalistic field.