News State Victoria ‘I’ve been attacked on this tram before’: TND retraces slain student’s final journey

‘I’ve been attacked on this tram before’: TND retraces slain student’s final journey

People prepare to ride the 86 tram with flowers for Aiia Maasarwe's vigil at parliament house. Photo: AAP
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A Melbourne woman, who takes the No.86 tram, the same one slain university student Aiia Maasarwe rode on her final journey, has told The New Daily of the terrifying moment she was assaulted on the same tram last year.

Victoria Police arrested a man on Friday as part of the investigation into the death of Ms Maasarwe.

The 21-year-old’s body was discovered on Wednesday beneath shrubbery outside the Polaris shopping centre just steps away from the Bundoora Park tram stop along the No. 86 route.

Police allege Ms Maasarwe was murdered in the early hours of Wednesday after travelling home from a comedy night, and was less than a kilometre from her home.

Thousands of mourners attended a silent vigil for Ms Maasarwe outside state Parliament on Friday night. 

‘I’ve been attacked before on this tram’

The New Daily retraced Ms Maasarwe’s final journey on the No.86 tram as a way of understanding how yet another young woman making her way home in a well-lit city never made it to her front door, which echoes the horrific murders of Jill Meagher and Eurydice Dixon.

A Melbourne woman, 28, who asked not to be named, wept while telling The New Daily about her “traumatic” encounter with a man who assaulted her on the No.86 tram last year.

“It was after 10pm in January last year and this man kept asking me for my name and I tried to ignore him.

“He then started to touch my leg and I was terrified. I got up really fast to get off at the next stop with other people,” she told The New Daily.

“I became so frightened it stopped me from travelling at night by myself,” she said.

‘We feel unsafe’

While sitting at the tram stop on Bourke Street waiting for the No.86 tram to arrive, Lu, 15, told The New Daily she wasn’t surprised that a tragedy like this could occur yet again.

The tram route operates from RMIT University Bundoora to Waterfront City Docklands, and is a popular route for thousands of students.

“I catch the tram at the night and this has rattled me but it’s not going to stop me from going out and doing all the things I want to do,” Lu said.

Shinduja Natesan told The New Daily she was too scared to catch the tram at night.

Another passenger, Sophia Bradbury, of Caulfield, 25, who uses the No.86 tram as way of getting to band practice, said she was shocked by  Ms Maasarwe’s murder.

“I’m definitely going to be more careful with my surroundings now,” Ms Bradbury told The New Daily.

Childcare worker, Shinduja Natesan, of Melbourne, who usually boards the tram at the Parliament Station stop, said she refused to use public transport late at night.

“My husband and I feel unsafe to travel at night, and we are too scared to live in quieter suburbs as things like this keep on happening,” Ms Natesan told The New Daily.

‘How could this happen in our peaceful community?’

By Friday, a shrine of flowers and handwritten messages had grown in the spot where Ms Maasarwe’s body was found, as Melbourne women took to social media to voice their grief and anger over the young woman’s brutal death. 

The New Daily spoke to several grief-stricken Bundoora residents, who said the tragedy had hit “too close to home”.

A shrine of flowers at the site where Ms Masarwe’s body was found. Photo: The New Daily

Sonia Sawan, 41, of Bundoora, who was laying a bouquet of flowers for Ms Maasarwe, said she was overwhelmed with sadness.

“This was someone’s daughter and she was just tragically killed so young,” Ms Sawan told The New Daily.

“They say that Melbourne is the safest and most liveable city, but I think it’s far from that now and it’s so sad that we’ve come to this,” she said.

Sonia Sawan told TND she was grief-stricken by the tragedy. Photo: The New Daily

Omran Omer, 23, of Bundoora, who was also laying flowers, said he thought his community was a safe place.

“My sister usually catches the No.86 tram at night and we think ‘yeah she’s safe’ – you just never think that something like this could happen in a suburb we’ve lived in all of our lives,” Mr Omer told The New Daily.

“Every individual is different from another … but for men who continue to view women as objects, they need to change the way they think,” he said.