Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

Growing up

Growing up

Evonne Lu

Year 9

At 5 years old, she was told that if a boy pulled her hair, he liked her.

At 7 years old, she was told that girls couldn't show too much skin or wear skirts shorter than 5 cm above the knee.

At 12 years old, she was told that catcalling was normal and if she felt uncomfortable, she just had to “suck it up and deal with it.”

At 14 years old, she was told that it was okay for her to be touched, in places she did not want to be touched; but she had to tolerate being touched because she was supposed to be a 'good, quiet little girl.'

At 16 years old, she bore the judgement of pitiful eyes, the name-calling, the sl*t-shaming as she heaved a heavy pram down the street.

At 18 years old, she was told that she wasn't fit for the job because she was “too maternal” to be productive.

At 20 years old, she felt alone. She sank into the shadows knowing that this was the life journey she had so unfortunately being destined to travel on.

At 25 years old, she found her trembling voice, one that swayed and trembled like the force of a thousand rickety bridges and the courage to whisper in a shaky voice: 'Me too.'

Every day, young women as young as ten endure the never-ending, horrific trauma of sexual assault. These young girls are manipulated and treated like once-off toys. According to the United Nations, Australia has the highest rates of sexual assault with an alarming statistic of 3951 separate sexual offence cases in the span of one state. That is 3951 victims manipulated and taken advantage of. That is 3951 victims robbed and deprived of their innocence and joy. That is 3951 victims forever scarred and blemished by the vivid memories of their traumatic, life-scarring incidences. How are we allowing so many women to become victimised and manipulated of? Why are we allowing women to be used as toys, treated like trash and then left alone to pick up their own broken selves like abandoned toys?

We live in a society where change comes from and will only come from our voices. Our voices no matter how small or how big, no matter how loud or how quiet, no matter how confident or shaky counts towards freeing these thousands of young girls who are incessantly taken advantage of and have to suffer the decrepit fragments of their esteem. Our voices are like the keys that free them from the dark, desolate cages of which our young girls are trapped in. It unlocks a cage entirely constructed from the fragments of fear, pain and loss of self-worth. The immense fear and pain that binds these young girls traps them in a world: a world where they're stuck in a void of emptiness, hollowness and loneliness. These vulnerable girls want to escape this world. These vulnerable girls seek the path to escape. These vulnerable girls seek the object to fill this emptiness; but they can't. How can you fill a hole shaped in something that you were robbed of? How can you fill a hole shaped in something that wasn't theirs to take? How can you fill a hole shaped in something that you can never, ever get back? Use your voice to free these young girls. Use your voice to mend these shattered souls. Use your voice to rebuild the broken. Be the glue to heal these girls. They matter.


S, Anderson. (2015) SBS NEWS Sexual Assault: how common is it in Australia? Retrieved on: 25/04/2019 Retrieved from: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/sexual-assault-how-common-is-it-in-australia