Reeling From Mass Stabbing, Australians Ask: Was It About Hatred of Women?

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Mary Aravanopoulos stood clutching her daughter, huddling for safety with about 15 other women in the dress shop filled with ethereal organza gowns. They had watched a man saunter past in the mall corridor, unhurriedly, swinging a large knife in his hand back and forth.

Soon, they heard about one woman getting stabbed, then another.

Amid the confusion in those panicked moments, Ms. Aravanopoulos said she immediately thought to herself: “Oh, my God, it’s all about women.”

By Monday, many others in Australia had reached the same conclusion about the weekend’s shocking stabbing rampage at a Sydney mall that left six people dead, five of them women. Of the dozen other people who were injured by the seemingly random act of mass violence — one of the deadliest in the country in recent decades — all but two were female, among them a baby girl of just 9 months old.

There may never be a clear explanation of the motives of the attacker, who was known to suffer from mental illness and was shot dead by a female police inspector, Amy Scott.

But for many people, it was yet another reminder of the misogyny and threats of violence women can face in Australian society. Less than 24 hours before the stabbings, hundreds of people had taken to the streets to protest a recent string of high-profile murders of three women. And on Monday, a civil case ruling appeared to validate a years-old allegation of rape that forced a reckoning of how the clubby, male-dominated Australian establishment had victimized women for decades.

“The ideology of the attacker was crystal clear — a hatred of women,” Josh Burns, a member of Parliament, wrote on the social media site X on Monday. “We must call it out for what it is.”

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