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Schooling Senator Hinch

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, January 17 2019, the body of 21-year-old Palestinian student Aiia Maasarwe was found next to a Bundoora shopping centre in Melbourne.

Police described her murder as “horrendous as you could get,” and refused to release further details out of respect for Ms Maasarwe, her family and friends.

Later that day, Senator Derryn Hinch posted a tweet that contained a most horrific detail, allegedly leaked to him by a “police contact.” I will not repost his tweet.

Hinch’s tweet provoked an immediate and furious backlash on social media. He responded to this reaction by doubling down, and insisting that “the stark details were included to warn women in the area what this monster, still on the loose, is capable of.”

He followed this up with:

To all the do-gooder tweeters attacking me for telling the gruesome truth about the Bundoora rape/murder. This brute is still out there. My tweet was for the memory of Jill Meagher and Eurydice Dixon.

Hinch’s posts are deeply unsettling from a number of angles. There is the legal question of publishing details of a crime, and how that may influence subsequent prosecution. His account is also unsubstantiated: we only know that he’s been told some details of the crime by an anonymous someone else. For reasons that are not immediately apparent to me, Hinch believes himself worthy of our trust on these matters.

Most important of all is what it must do to Ms Maasarwe’s family to see that the extreme harms inflicted on their beloved are the subject of a politician’s self-seeking tweet, dashed off in seconds, posted on a global social media platform only hours after her death. One moment spent imagining my own child ‘s suffering and death being co-opted in this way is entirely unbearable. The Maasarwe family, and friends, have to live this. It is monstrous to inflict further anguish on them by detailing the torment Aiia suffered in the form of a tweet. To do this under the pretence of protecting women, and further, to claim it honours the memory of two other brutally murdered women, is beyond belief.

Yet, this is what Hinch did, and he has continued to defend his indefensible actions.

There’s also the effects of his posts on his accidental readers, many of whom, like myself, simply opened our Twitter feed to be confronted by horrific descriptions that I, and many other women I’ve engaged with today, have been unable to erase from our minds.

The details of the attack on Ms Maasarwe will eventually become public, in court transcripts and media coverage. It will be my choice whether to read these or not. Senator Hinch denied women this choice by posting the information on social media and I, and many others, feel violated by his act.

Twitter is not the platform on which to reveal terrifying details police have decided to withhold. This was not an act of noble truth-telling by a courageous man whose only desire was to inform women so that we might better protect ourselves. Indeed, Hinch has demonstrated yet one more way men can provoke terror in women, by detailing the torment another man has inflicted via a platform where such information carries no trigger warning, and cannot be anticipated or avoided.

It is not Senator Hinch’s role to decide for women that we need to be confronted by gratuitous descriptions in order to grasp the danger we are in. We are far from unaware. We understand that if police describe a woman’s murder as “horrendous as you can get” they mean what they say. Many women live on a continuum of fear, from mild apprehension to full-blown terror, pretty much every day of our lives. We can decode “horrendous as you can get.” We do not require men such as Hinch to do this for us, and in so doing, erode what little control we have over how we can best manage our lives in a world where we are at constant risk. Hinch seems to be on a grandiose, messiah-like mission to force women to face the details he decides are necessary for us to know.

In itself, this attitude absolutely violates our right to decide what we can and cannot admit into our lives. It is a dreadful thing to do to women who have already survived male violation, and denial of our autonomy.

What Hinch actually succeeded in doing was to make himself the centre of the story, not the women who were murdered, not their families and not their friends. We have become somewhat inured to politicians’ despicable behaviours over the last years. We don’t expect much decency. However, this action taken by Senator Hinch is up there with some of the worst political behaviours on record.

Women who survive sexual assault as adults, and/or children, and the terrifying powerlessness of being overwhelmed by male violence, are, at the very least, entitled to decide how much we can afford to know about the suffering inflicted on other victims. This is the reason for trigger warnings: to give us the opportunity to decide if we want to take the risk of having our own trauma reignited by the details of the violence wrought on another. We can say no to such information. We are not obliged to absorb the details of horror. We’ve lived horror, and we’ve earned the right to choose not to allow details such as those published by Hinch into our lives. We well know what some men are capable of. We do not forget. We certainly do not need another man to forcibly remind us.

Hinch has been reported to Twitter by numerous tweeps. Many of us have asked him to delete his post. He has steadfastly refused to do this.

It would be appropriate for his political colleagues to school Hinch on his despicable behaviour. However, I doubt any of them will bother. Yet again, it is up to us to express our disgust and contempt for the hideous actions of an elected representative.

Vale, Aiia Maasarwe.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

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  1. Diannaart

    Another (older) white male ’splaining violence to women, because we’re so clueless and really need more graphic images in our lives.


  2. Geoff Andrews

    One can hope that the police pursue the grub that leaked the information.
    Hinch, of course, is too dumb to understand the concept of copycat crimes but if you’ve paid for something (?), you’ve got to use it.
    Did he pay for the information with money or future favours? Let’s say he did and start a twitter storm – “there is a rumour that ……”

  3. Kaye Lee

    Those other stellar Senators Anning and Leyonjhelm are excoriating Hinch, not for his comments, but for him voting against their proposal to legalise and promote the carrying of pepper spray, mace and tasers by women for “political protection”.

    Just what we want….tasers in the hands of our attackers.

  4. OldWOmBat

    Hinch has never been anything more than an ego looking for publicity. The fact of a brutal, needless, and senseless murder are sufficient to show the horror of the crime, and the baseness of the murderer. Hinch’s actions are reprehensible and merely reveal more of his voyeuristic bent at the expense of further distress to those who loved Aiia Massarwe.

  5. helvityni

    It might be advisable to start looking for candidates for political positions in the more schooled, better educated sections of community…

    On the other hand we already have plenty of lawyers in Canberra, they don’t seem to do any better.

    Wherever our leaders come from they have to be more progressive, and a bit more civilized as well…

    It’s good to be well liked by people, but that folksy ball-kicking and cap-wearing is getting a bit tedious…

  6. RomeoCharlie29

    I am the same age as a Hinch and was a journalist for 45 years but I can see absolutely no justification for what he has done ( though I don’t tweet so didn’t get his). This smacks of self aggrandisement at its basest. The fact the he, apparently, won’t delete the tweet is disgusting.As for claiming it’s about other raped and murdered women, big horse laugh. Ya gotta be kidding me.

  7. New England Cocky

    Uhm ….. I take the unpopular position that this outburst by Hinch, however distasteful, may be justified given that this is the THIRD SUCH EVENT IN MELBOURNE IN RECENT TIMES. It is time for the persons convicted of such crimes to be dealt with appropriately by the Courts, with sentence length including mandatory term of his natural life.

    But the real problem is the 40 years that society has denigrated boys into men, the education policies favouring “positive discrimination for women”, the failure of all governments to provide a living wage for all families so that kids may be properly raised in an unstressed and loving home life. It won’t always be a perfect solution, but evidence is that it will reduce these types of incidents.

  8. Viki Hannah

    Hinch is a loud drunk & has to be the centre of attention – exactly the type of male to steer clear of in a public place imho. Pardon me if I don’t take my safety advice from this male.

  9. Matters Not


    to school Hinch on …

    Why school and not the higher order educate concept? Or isn’t there a distinction meant to be made?

  10. Kerri

    To me, this is another case of victim blaming.
    By publishing the horrors of Aiia’s death he purports to scare women into acting safely.
    The unwritten message is take better care and don’t take risks ‘cause this is what could happen.
    His purpose is to frighten and intimidate.
    Yet another form of control over women. Simplistic as it is reductive.

  11. helvityni

    MN, I used ‘schooling’ to stick to the subject, but added ‘better educated’ just to be on the safer side….

    I also assumed that Hinch must already have had some ‘schooling’, at least up to the age of fifteen, or whatever the minimum is…

    The education does not seem to matter too much when we elect people to represent us in Canberra, see Pauline….et others…

  12. Andrew Smith

    Hinch has form and the only redeeming feature of this recent outburst is that he has been consistent with his brand, and contempt of court. Further he also underwent bankruptcy proceedings some years ago and like other senators and/or MPs, is he merely in politics for ego and money (or retirement benefits) to subsidize some bad financial decisions?

  13. Matters Not

    helvityni, I am hoping that Dr Wilson will offer her view. I suspect her choice of word was very deliberate and I would like to know as to the why.

    Yes schooling is almost universal – education less so. Indeed schooling is not even necessary in the education stakes. When it comes to education, lots of schooling is neither necessary and certainly not sufficient.

  14. paul walter

    Well, this is the Human Headline.

    He has transplanted tabloid TV to politics as surely as two livers and counting, rendered redundant from intemperate overuse.

    He employs attention-seeking boorishness to retain his Senate Seat as he once would have retain audience share.

    On the subject of boorish intrusions, has anyone else been visitated by Clive Palmer when trying to consider something else at a site on the internet?

    Very American shameless self promotion regardless of harm done.

    We now enter the decade of the pig.

  15. Carol Taylor

    That was so very well said, Jennifer. I likewise felt sick to the pit of my stomach that Hinch should again try to get publicity FOR HIMSELF over the torture and death of a woman. Thank you for writing this and bringing Hinch’s actions to our attention.

  16. Rosemary J36

    You can school a horse and it has a very different meaning from educating. It affects not knowledge, but behaviout.

  17. paul walter

    You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Think about that.

    He is not only a Human Headline but a mobile, post-cirrhotic billboard for the medical transplant industry.

  18. wam

    spot on rosemary hinch has been schooled over low fences and now as a senator imagines he is a show jumper.

    Australian society cannot deny we have a problem accepting that all women have a 4th part and some of those are superior.

  19. Dr Jennifer Wilson

    Matters Not, for mine, “school” carries implications of discipline that “educate” lacks. But this is a personal choice, so the latter might well resonate better for you.
    Cheers, Jennifer.

  20. Dr Jennifer Wilson

    Thanks, Carol, I know you aren’t alone in your visceral response. What he did was deeply disturbing.
    Cheers, Jennifer.

  21. George Theodoridis

    Many thanks, Jennifer.
    I need say only that I have two daughters. The rest just can’t come out because the pain chokes it all up.

  22. Diannaart


    Hinch is a self entitled mansplainer, there, I said it for you.

    Every time we hear of another woman raped and murdered, many, many, too many women experience post traumatic stress.

  23. Kerry

    I don’t know if what he did was right or wrong.

    However I don’t agree that its empowering to teach our children, male or female that they can walk alone at night where there aren’t people around because they “should” be able to and men “should” do better.

    The facts of our world is that violence happens everywhere, for a multitude of reasons and increasingly so in many countries of the world.

    In my opinion it is common sense to teach our daughters, and sons for that matter, to be careful, to not walk or travel alone at night or in isolated places. This is not sexist, it is safety 101. Men are not the problem, violent sick individuals are the problem. I know two men who were beaten almost to death walking through dark parks late at night.

    I don’t know what the answer is but i’m pretty sure it isn’t feminism in this case.

    The think is it is entirely right to be afraid in dangerous situations, its human and a survival instinct.

  24. Andrew Smith

    Kerry agree, the issue is the lack of people on suburban streets versus cars late evening, BTW PT and home.

  25. Kaye Lee

    I don’t think feminism is the answer either?

    But I do think there is a real cultural and societal problem in the way many men view women and in the way they deal with anger and it must be addressed.

    None of us should have to be afraid yet the sexual and domestic violence statistics show that there must be a hell of a lot of “violent sick individuals” out there.

    Of course not all men are violent, but most violence is perpetrated by men.

  26. Michael Taylor

    I feel sorry for women, I really do. At times there must be nowhere to hide.

    A friend of mine was a pilot in Port Moresby about 25 years ago … at the time when white people were being murdered because they were white. He packed up and left.

    Women under threat cannot simply pack up and leave.

  27. Diannaart


    Even when women do manage to leave, and believe they have moved on with their lives, there are triggers, reminders and the sense of powerlessness overwhelms …

    Such as the fact of rape by stranger, or intimidation from a neighbour, or violence in the home by someone thought to be trustworthy.

    Those who try to silence men, women, children who are trying to speak out against violence, by telling them to stop playing the victim.

    Then there’s Derryn “I must be heard” Hinch. Like a big dump on top of everything.

  28. Matters Not

    Dr Jennifer Wilson re:

    “school” carries implications of discipline that “educate” lacks.

    Can see where you are coming from. Schooling tends to be outer (or other) directed (external, imposed norms) while education is more about inner direction (self imposed – chosen, scale of values).

    Perhaps Hinch needs the former to function in a civilized society? But as a follower and not a leader.

  29. paul walter

    Hmmm..I slip whimsically to noisy and “loud” advertising. Hinch, Jones and the like, Like Morrison, say are also species fo a phenomenon that the French thinker Foucault elaborated upon a few decades ago concerning the (eventually pharmaceutical and electronic) Panopticon in “{Discipline and Punish”.

    In this scenario “intrusive” people like Palmer, Abbott and Hinch are actually manipulators of technique in what used to be described as brainwashing, basically they are not seeking a conversation but telling you through a noise and light show echoed through tabloid press and media, what they want your brain to know when this can override your consciousness and reasoning capacity, eg crude techniques of behaviour manipulation and (false?) perception.

    This the pomo idea: that formal politics and social organisation are window dressing for a new type of less detectable and very contingent and sourceless form of politics that reduces life to a formalised rule of the jungle. Civilisation goes nowhere anymore, it is pointless (and always anyway despite ideological and metaphysical attempts to prove otherwise) and is a mere stage or field for also pointless human action over lifespans. Control is imposed from within rather than with truncheons. In the end it could be liberating for those who read the landscape best, but it certainly changes the equation as to cultural progress.

    In this world people like Hinch become sort of illusory police folk who employ techniques of sensory manipulation to impose a sort of power based neo-feudalism that also is basically contingent and changeable by the moment, in the end the “prison ” a prison of noise, shape, image and manipulation akin to sheepdogs barking at sheep.

    Did the Beatles anticipate this sort of world in “Yellow Submarine”?

    Perhaps it is what a book I was told about but could never find, “The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr Hoffman”(there is a name to conjure with!) written by counter-culture writer Angela Carter was getting at,
    the limitless world of Timothy Leary reduced to Murdochism?

    We ( the system?) have only kept the bad things again?

  30. tyrannosauruswenz

    @paul walter – thank you, that was really thought-provoking.
    I don’t give Hinch that much credit, though, having seen the tweet in question. It was clear to me that all Hinch wanted was to appear to be ‘in the know’ without a shred of concern for any who have been harmed by what he revealed. It haunts me, and I have no doubt it was extremely distressing for her loved ones.

  31. paul walter

    Thanks, tyrannosauraswenz. It is really a sad lack of self-understanding involved, but he will go the way of all flesh and the realisation thereof will not a pretty sight be to be seen.

  32. Jexpat

    John Menadue shares with us what creepy Derryn Hinch and others like him have wrought:

    The first Essential poll for the year asks people whether crime, in various categories, has increased or decreased over the last few years, and a belief in increased crime wins hands down. Two thirds of us believe that drug-related crime and youth gang crime have increased over the last few years.

    Inconveniently for those who would have us believe that Melbourne’s streets are as dangerous as San Salvador’s the ABS survey on recorded crime shows that the only category of crime with increasing victimisation is sexual assault (mainly in private dwellings). In all other categories, including murder, burglary, robbery and car theft, crime is on a strong downward trend.


  33. paul walter

    Not Laura Norder again, must be an election or two in the wings?

    Lots of race hate to spice it.


    Get the Murray Darling fixed, you no-hopers!!

  34. paul walter

    And to you, too, Geoff.

  35. paul walter

    Geoff, thinking on it, I did read parts of it some it some time ago, which is why it came to mind with Wilson’s piece but got sidetracked away by other events. An odd book, or at least the parts I read of it.

    In a way, the current world contains elements of Kafka as much as anyone, or vaguely, 1984, without the overt totalitarianism exhibited with Industrial era literature.

    It’s more tampering with the psychic wiring in our era, we don’t care much provided they leave us to our soma, in whatever form that comes.

  36. Diannaart

    I have yet to read of any sympathy for Aiia, here or on other related threads.

    Let alone a glimmer of light upon the day to day lives of women.

    But that would ruin everything, I guess.

  37. paul walter

    Too busy sympathising for the women and kids suffering malnutrition and cholera in Yemen and Africa.

    You’re just not up to decentring, are you?

  38. Diannaart


    You “sympathise” for women in third world countries, well that makes everything OK then.

    Sarcasm alert:

    Because violence to women in first world nations is clearly not important.

    Dunno where I got the idea that mistreatment and exploitation of women and children in ANY country is abhorrent.

    Please save me from my wicked, wicked ways of expressing my opinion. Must learn to shut the f#ck up, lest I draw the ire of Paul Walter.

  39. Michael Taylor

    Did the Beatles anticipate this sort of world in “Yellow Submarine”?

    Not “In the town, where I was born …”

  40. paul walter

    They walked down Penny Lane to the Strawberry Fields.

    Strawberry Fields Forever.

  41. Michael Taylor

    Penny Lane, we were told on our tour there a few months ago, was named after a fellow called James Penny.

    Mr Penny was a very wealthy bloke who made his money in the slave trade.

    The City of Liverpool decided to change the name of Penny Lane because they don’t want any celebration of that evil man’s life in their city.

    As you can imagine, there was an uproar. How could you throw away such an iconic street name?

    A deal was struck: the name would remain, and the city would build a museum showing the horrors of the slave trade. The past could not be changed, but it should always be remembered. If it is forgotten, then nothing can be learnt from it.

  42. paul walter

  43. Zathras

    In this instance (and many others) it wasn’t about the victim but about Hinch himself – the so-called “Human Headline”.

    He simply needs to feel relevant and somehow more informed and important than everyone else.

    What he tweeted was simply gratuitous and self-serving and added nothing to the situation except to pander to those attracted to such detail and caused further distress to the family of the victim.

  44. paul walter

    I really feel challenged at the employ of logic by Diannaart that because there have no direct comments re the murder victim Aiia Maarsawe that is to be therefore inferred that there is no sympathy for her and her family.

    I would have thought that sympathy would have been automatic and to suggest otherwise is a bit presumptuous and bordering on insulting to other contributors in what seems to be implied in the comment

  45. helvityni

    Paul Walter, my policy( for long time now) has been not to engage with trouble makers…

    When I have come to someone’s rescue in the past online,( someone unfairly treated), the abuse has then been directed at me…

    I feel bad for not helping the bullied, but can’t handle the abuse either anymore….


  46. helvityni

    Whilst I’m here, I have to let you all know that last night’s 7.30 was almost unbearable to witness; I you missed it, please watch it on iView…

  47. Joseph Carli

    If you are talking of the Vic police, Helvi’….they seem to be a little better now than they were back in the seventies…back then they were almost a branch of the Mafia….a law unto themselves…There used to be a unoficial motto for anyone who was dragged under that old arch of police HQ. in Russell St. …: (wtte) ” Surrender hope all ye who enter here”…

  48. helvityni

    Joe, none of these incidents happened in the Seventies…but now.

    Why is ‘progress’ always so slow….?

  49. George Theodoridis

    Unbearable to watch, indeed, Helvi!
    Cops bereft of logic, bereft of understanding, bereft of circumspection, but worst of all, bereft of accountability.

    Progress is only born out of will. No will, no progress. In this case, a case where the will of one body is subject to the will of another, -the Govnt’s- one is right to extrapolate that either there is an evil collusion happening or one body is ridden by the venom of corruption.

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