A horrifying video of rugby star and boxer Debbie Kaore being beaten with a hot iron has been met with global disgust, as more Australian women report domestic abuse during the coronavirus lockdown.
In the footage, Ms Kaore’s partner Murray Oa – a lieutenant in the Papua New Guinea army and father of their baby – repeatedly head-buts her and strikes her face with a hot iron.
Speaking to The New Daily after fleeing to her family home in Port Moresby, Ms Kaore said she feared for her life and “begged (her partner) to put the iron down”.
“I saw in his eyes he really wanted to burn me alive,” she said.
We gave birth to sons, who grew up to be kids, to teenagers, and into men…We deserve to be loved and respected.’’
– Debbie Kaore
Though Ms Kaore is based in PNG, her experience is all too familiar for women around the world – including a growing number of Australian women in coronavirus lockdown.
A new study released by Monash University has revealed an increasing number of Victorian women have been reporting domestic violence during the global health crisis.
As part of the study, 166 family violence victim support practitioners were surveyed across Victoria over a four-week period from the end of April into May.
More than half of the respondents reported that the COVID-19 pandemic had contributed to an increase in the frequency and severity of violence against women.
Nearly half of the practitioners (42 per cent) also said the pandemic had resulted in more women reporting family violence for the first time.
In many cases, perpetrators were using social distancing restrictions aimed at limiting the virus’s spread as an excuse to limit women’s movements.
“Perpetrators are using COVID-19 as a reason to keep women isolated,” one respondent said.
“For example, not letting them out of the home to ‘protect them’ from COVID-19.”
Many practitioners said women were encouraged to pretend they had a doctor’s or Centrelink appointment to meet workers face to face, often using code words to use via text or over the phone.
‘We deserve to be loved and respected’
Ms Kaore, 30, is an elite athlete who won gold for Papua New Guinea in boxing at the Pacific Games in 2015 and recently changed to rugby sevens, representing her country at the HSBC World Series last year.
On Monday, police announced they had arrested and charged Oa, 33, with one count of causing grievous bodily harm after Ms Kaore filed a complaint.
The violent attack left Ms Kaore with seven stitches and serious burns to the left side of her thigh, chin, chest and stomach.
Her message to other women suffering abuse at the hands of a partner who won’t change his ways?
Leave – and report his behaviour to authorities, she said.
“We don’t deserve to be treated like this,” Ms Kaore said.
“We gave birth to sons, who grew up to be kids, to teenagers, and into men.
“We deserve to be loved and respected.”
For sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service call 1800 RESPECT 1800 737 732 for 24/7 phone and online services.