Grace Millane had planned a solo backpacking trip around the world to punctuate her college graduation and mark a new chapter in her life. But the adventure took a tragic turn when the 21-year-old went missing in Auckland, New Zealand, on Dec. 1 — the night before what would have been her 22nd birthday.
A body, later confirmed to be Millane’s, was located on Dec. 9, and a 26-year-old man who was reportedly with Millane when she was last seen alive has been arrested and charged with murder, BBC reports. The suspect was identified by the Telegraph as Jesse Kempson, 26.
But instead of mourning the loss of a promising young woman, some on social media are questioning Millane’s decision to travel alone, saying she was “asking for trouble” and even going as far as to criticize her family for allowing her to go on a solo trip.
Just a few “hot takes” from Twitter about Grace Millane over the past few days.
I am thankful the majority of people are expressing love and support for the family, and anger at the actual perpetrator of the crime. pic.twitter.com/iQfXAhpDdm
— Jennifer Duke 🌈 (@JennieDuke) December 8, 2018
The remarks are too common and too convenient for those who refuse to recognize the real problem — that women should feel safe enough to travel by themselves, whether to a far-flung country or to another part of their own city and take public transportation home. Most importantly, it’s key to recognize that the assailants are the problem and that it is they who should be held accountable for their criminal acts, not the victims.
“Disgraceful that people are even considering victim blaming Grace Millane for travelling alone and ‘putting herself at risk,'” one supporter posted.
Disgraceful that people are even considering victim blaming Grace Millane for travelling alone and ‘putting herself at risk.’ The ONLY thing to blame for her murder is the man who murdered her. Women should be able to travel solo without worrying they’ll be killed by a stranger.
— JM (@jxssmitchell) December 9, 2018
Plenty of others echoed her sentiment.
The reporting on the this Grace Millane murder is atrocious. Victim blaming to a whole new level.
Tinder didn’t kill her. Travelling alone didn’t kill her. Alcohol didn’t kill her.
A murderer killed her. A man. Not an app, or a passport, or a drink.
Dark day for journalism.
— Col (@ColTalbot1) December 9, 2018
Never been more ashamed to be a New Zealander 😥. I am beyond sorry that this is what happened on what should have been the adventure of a lifetime. And to the people trying to say she shouldn't have solo traveled. FUCK. YOU. #GraceMillane
— Sana (@Sana_Banana22) December 9, 2018
I can’t stop thinking about Grace Millane, 22 years old and living her dream travelling the world, until she was murdered and her body dumped in a forest by a man. the world is absolutely terrifying, her family must be devastated. Rest in peace Grace, you will not be forgotten
— L (@lucywomxx) December 9, 2018
If you think Grace Millane is to blame in her own murder because “she shouldn’t have been traveling alone” or “she shouldn’t have met up with a man”… YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.
— Sarah Labude (@selilabude) December 8, 2018
one of the saddest things about the Grace Millane case is that this could have happened anywhere, young women shouldn't be scared of exploring the world and living their lives to the fullest, they should be able to come home and tell stories of their adventures, makes me so mad
— chloé (@chloekelly16_) December 8, 2018
TV personality Urzila Carson punctuated the point on the nightly news program The Project NZ. “You get the ‘not all men’ argument,” she said. “But we’re not taking the time out to celebrate the men not murdering.”
Instead, the focus of the conversation surrounding the tragic death of Millane should be on the growing number of women who are embarking on solo trips — and what is going to be done to make the world a safer place for them. According to a 2018 Booking.com survey, 65 percent of U.S. women are taking vacations without their partners. These women, the survey explained, are most likely to travel alone for the freedom and independence that comes with it.
Fear and judgment shouldn’t factor into their plans. Yet far too often women are blamed for the crimes committed against them because of their clothes, their alcohol intake, their relationship history — the list goes on.
Things not responsible for murder: clothing, alcohol, dating, dating apps, hotels, hotel rooms, solo travelling, walking alone, dark nights, the victim.
Things responsible for murder: the murderer.
— Jo Sullivan (@jomsull78) December 9, 2018
In reality, New Zealand has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the world, according to the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse. One in every three women experience violence from a partner in their lifetime in the country.
And the crime did not go unnoticed by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“On behalf of New Zealand, I want to apologize to Grace’s family,” Ardern said during a press conference, fighting back tears in an emotional speech on Monday. “Your daughter should have been safe here, and she wasn’t, and I’m sorry for that.”
"Your daughter should have been safe here and she wasn't and I'm sorry for that"
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern holds back tears talking about the murder of British tourist Grace Millane
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) December 10, 2018
The New Zealand PM is holding back tears talking about the murder of British tourist Grace Millane and in the UK the police are telling women to get of their phones to avoid rape. When you ask why having women in politics and leadership matters this is it.
— Nimco Ali 🔻 (@NimkoAli) December 10, 2018
“From the Kiwis I have spoken to, there is this overwhelming sense of hurt and shame that this has happened in our country, a place that prides itself on our hospitality, on our manakitanga,” Ardern explained, drawing on the Kiwi word meaning kindness, generosity and respect.
A vigil is planned for Wednesday to remember Millane’s life and all of the women affected by violence this year in New Zealand. A GoFundMe campaign has also been set up in her honor.
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