The father Aiia Maasarwe, who was raped and murdered, has said proposed gag laws are highly insensitive and an “injustice” to victims’ families.
The father Aiia Maasarwe, who was raped and murdered, has said proposed gag laws are highly insensitive and an “injustice” to victims’ families.

Aiia’s heartbroken dad slams ‘unjust’ gag laws

The father of rape and murder victim Aiia Maasarwe said gag laws that would have banned him speaking about his daughter were highly insensitive and countered efforts to prevent violence toward women.

Saaed Maasarwe told the Herald Sun the proposed legal changes, which were put on hold at the eleventh hour in parliament on Wednesday, would punish grieving families.

"I think it would be an injustice to victims and families," he said.

"I do not understand why a family should be hurt twice. Once in the loss of a loved one and once again by the society."

Ms Maasarwe, a 21-year-old Israeli student, was murdered in a random attack in January last year.

Mr Maasarwe said politicians in favour of the gag law ought to rethink their humanity.

"(He is) to be a human being before he is a politician," he said.

Mr Maasarwe added silencing victims' stories was no way to address the issues of respect toward women.

"If society hides the truth I do not think it can deal with the problems within it," he said.

"I'm not sure this is the way to prevent the next murder or the next abuse."

Aiia Maasarwe's father Saaed Maasarwe Picture: Tony Gough
Aiia Maasarwe's father Saaed Maasarwe Picture: Tony Gough

The government says they will now consult with families before a new amendment is put to parliament in September 2021.

Legislation changes which did pass parliament on Wednesday that will stop living victims from being gagged have been welcomed by survivors.

Nicole Lee is among the coalition of women who spearheaded the #LetUsSpeak campaign, backed by the Herald Sun, to fight for their right to be heard.

"These laws should never have been there in the first place but it is rectified now," she said.

Ms Lee said the fight to speak out had been a silver lining as "it brought up a lot of debate and conversation about sexual assault in the community."

Nicole Lee, who spearheaded the #LetUsSpeak campaign in August – and has since fought to obtain a court order to be named as a survivor
Nicole Lee, who spearheaded the #LetUsSpeak campaign in August – and has since fought to obtain a court order to be named as a survivor

#LetUsSpeak campaign creator Nina Funnell said it was a win for some.

"We are relieved that living victims will finally have their dignity, agency and voices restored but they should never had these stolen from them in the first place," she said.

"This victory has only come about because of the tenacity of survivors, the public, the media, and the opposition and crossbenchers all standing together in the name of common sense.

"The government's ongoing assault on grieving families is an atrocious insult to the memory and legacies of those victims."

Premier Daniel Andrews said "it's always important to listen to the voices of those who know and understand these issues best and that victims who carry the burden of grief every single day.

"And I want to apologise for any stress, any sense of trauma that may have come from this process."

 

MORE NEWS

PRESSURE MOUNTS TO STOP PROPOSED VICTORIAN LAW

VICTIMS AND FAMILIES DESERVE RIGHT TO SHARE STORIES

 

Originally published as Aiia's heartbroken dad slams 'unjust' gag laws


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