Sexual consent campaigner's astonishing claim after the death of Sydney woman: ... trends now
A sexual consent campaigner has claimed the murder of private school water polo coach Lilie James was given blanket media coverage because she was white.
Ms James, 21, was brutally bludgeoned to death by Dutch-born hockey coach Paul Thijssen, 24, in the gym bathroom at exclusive St Andrew's Cathedral School in Sydney's CBD last Wednesday.
The savage murder has dominated newspaper headlines in the week afterwards as details emerged of the pair's whirlwind romance and Thijssen's suicide hours after the murder.
But Chanel Contos told the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday that all domestic murders of women should get the same level of media attention - but the murder of Ms James was given special treatment.
'We can't forget that Lilie James was a white woman and this sort of media attention - the media very much elevate certain voices and certain experiences,' she said.
'How many women would have been killed this year - 56 or something so far? And where's the coverage for that?'
She said Australian media should apply the same level of resources to all domestic murders as they did to the death of Friends star Matthew Perry at the weekend.
Sexual consent campaigner Chanel Costos (pictured) has claimed the murder of private school water polo coach Lilie James was given blanket media coverage because she was white
Lilie James, 21, (right) was brutally bludgeoned to death by Dutch-born hockey coach Paul Thijssen, 24, (left) in the gym bathroom at exclusive St Andrew's Cathedral School in Sydney 's CBD last Wednesday
'Matthew Perry from Friends died last week and every single media outlet in Australia covered it,' said the former student at private Kambala School in Sydney's east.
'Why has not all 56 of those women's deaths been covered - or those men who murdered those women?
'Why has that not been covered by the same amount of media outlets and not been given that same attention?'
Ms Contos, 25, set up the Teach Us Consent campaign to tackle sexual assault, after she was flooded with horrifying accounts of attacks among Sydney school students.
She said the murder of Ms James had particularly resonated with her because it was so close to her own experiences.
'I think really hit home for a lot of people,' she said. 'I think this was, one, because she was very young. Two, because I live in Sydney and it happened in Sydney.
'Three, it was a private school [and] there's multiple testimonies about that school, on my website showing this culture is epidemic there.
'She was someone who was around my age, grew up in my area, was working in my area.
'Why had we not done enough to make it so that that man never got to that position in his life?'
She said reporting the murders of women like Ms James could be used to transform society in same way her campaign had triggered a change in classrooms where teachers now educate students about consent.
'I think the media is one of our largest tools for shaping culture,' she said.
'Just as teachers should have training to be transformative actors in this change, so should media.
'I think we also need to stop with the clickbaity headlines that is basically trauma bait from someone's [tragedy].'
And she said focusing on Thijssen being a school leader was misleading.
'There was things saying he was a sports captain, elevating his status as if it's this kind of shock horror, but I think that's the exact thing,' she said.
'We don't understand how someone who can also be a sports captain, who can also be a school leader, can do these sorts of things.
'But the point is that anyone can, and our society very much celebrates and embeds this culture.'
She added: 'A statistic I want to point out is that if a man earns more than his female partner, she is 35 per cent more likely to be subjected to domestic violence from him.
'This idea of male ego is often a driver of violence, and our media is consistently reinforcing that message and allowing that statistic to be true.
'So yes, I think there should be training and regulations are encouraged.'
Chanel Contos (pictured) told the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday that all domestic murders of women should get the same level of media attention - but the murder of Ms James was given special treatment
On Wednesday, acting Opposition Leader Sussan Ley said things needed to change.
'This is a national crisis and we are not talking