COMMENT:

The tears in his eyes made it difficult for David Millane to read.

He held a bit of paper. A few carefully chosen devastating sentences. But as he and his wife Gill stood before the media, for a few seconds he couldn't recognise them. He couldn't read his own words.

The case has captured our attention for many reasons.

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Grace Millane was a young woman who was in that incredibly special, brief moment in life where she would have felt absolute freedom for the first time. Out on the road. The wind in her hair. The first few days of an OE on the opposite side of the world, with all the potential and opportunity of youth. God, what a feeling that is.

Grace Millane's parents Dave and Gillian speak to the media at the Auckland High Court after the jury delivered a murder verdict. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Grace Millane's parents Dave and Gillian speak to the media at the Auckland High Court after the jury delivered a murder verdict. Photo / Jason Oxenham

It is important, though, to consider her murder in a broader context. For all the attention on this case, on this young woman and the young man who killed her, the greatest tragedy of Grace Millane's death is that it is nothing out of the ordinary. The saddest thing about Grace's death is that in a sense, Grace Millane is just a number.

We New Zealand men kill women in shameful quantities. There have been at least three concurrent murder trials in New Zealand for men killing women during the past couple of weeks.

This isn't for a moment a slight on Grace Millane, because of course she and her family should never have been put in this awful position. But Grace Millane is extraordinary. Because when the victim is poor and brown, the chances are most of us will never even know her name.

So what can we do? If you feel moved, as I do, White Ribbon offers some basic advice: Call out any form of violence against women. Be brave if you see something in public. If you have a mate who's making disrespectful or harmful comments about women, call him out.

Grace Millane and her family on graduation day. Photo / Supplied
Grace Millane and her family on graduation day. Photo / Supplied

And if you're a parent - and this is a really important one - talk to children about pornography.

Most of us have no idea about how pornography is contributing to harm in our society, criminal or otherwise. Pornography today is nothing like the Playboys and Penthouse centrefolds of old.

Much of it is incredibly violent and extreme, and anyone with an internet connection or a phone can access it with just a couple of clicks. A few weeks ago, the acting head youth court judge told me the court believes they are seeing an increase in the number of sexual violence crimes committed by young men who have had unlimited access to violent porn. I don't think we have a grip on just how much damage it is causing.

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Last night, after intense scrutiny, the world turned its attention away from the high court.

It turned away from the Millane family, turned away from a harrowing case, to the relief of weekend.

David and Gill Millane finished their statement and turned to … well, who knows what?

Now at least they feel they have justice. I hope one day the Millanes get peace.

If you're in danger now:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.

• Run outside and head for where there are other people.

• Scream for help so your neighbours can hear you.

• Take the children with you.

• Don't stop to get anything else.

• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay.

Where to go for help or more information:

• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz

• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz

• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz

• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and middle eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584

• Ministry of Justice: www.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence

• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz

• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz

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