Hannah Baxter: Australian Mother And Her Children Senselessly Murdered
Published in Feb 2020 / Updated in Oct 2021
Australia is mourning the deaths of a woman and her three children who were senselessly murdered in a car fire.
Hannah Clark, 31, and her children Laianah, 6, Aaliyah, 4, and Trey, 3 were doused in petrol in the family car and set alight by Hannah's estranged husband.
The case has sparked an international outcry over domestic violence. People are shocked, saddened, angry, and devastated. It's left Australians bewildered as to how a man can commit such a horrendous crime against his own children and their mother.
Hannah and her three children [were] so senselessly and maddeningly murdered in what has occurred in a terrible act of domestic violence.
"There's a rising sense of anger in this day and age that the scourge of family and domestic violence still can lead to the death of five people," said Detective Inspector Mark Thompson.
Police were first called to the scene in Camp Hill's suburb, the city's east in at 08:30 local time on Wednesday (21:30 GMT on Tuesday). They found the couple's three children dead inside the car and their mother burning on the ground beside it. Hannah Clarke, 31, died later in hospital from extensive burns.
Witnesses told Australian media she had screamed: "he's poured petrol on me" and "save my children" when helpers rushed to the site. They said Mr. Baxter, 42, had attempted to stop helpers intervening before grabbing a knife from the car and stabbing himself to death. Emergency responders were unable to revive him when they arrived at the scene.
Hannah had a domestic violence order in place. Her estranged husband was known to the police. The media's initial response to Hannah's death seemed to side with the Father.
People Are Asking What Drove Him To Do It?
He was an ex-rugby player for an Australian national team. People were wondering about his mental health at the time. What people need to understand is that this was not an ex-football player dying with his children or a doting father struggling with separation.
This was a vile and dangerous man who felt a sense of possession and entitlement over his wife and children. This was a man with a level of hatred and disrespect for their mother so great that he chose to murder them in such a brutal way, a way that's unfathomable to most.
According to the Bureau of Statistics, one woman per week is murdered in Australia by a current or former male partner. Almost 40% of women still experience domestic violence during the separation period. 85% of women have been sexually harassed. 1 in 5 women has experienced sexual violence by age 15. And 1 in 4 have experienced emotional abuse by age 15. A UN report compiled from a number of different studies conducted in at least 71 countries found domestic violence against women to be most prevalent in Ethiopia.
Up to two-thirds of women in certain communities in Nigeria's Lagos State say they are domestic violence victims. The combined health, administration, and social welfare costs of violence against women have been estimated to be $21.7 billion a year, with projections suggesting that if no further action is taken to prevent violence against women, costs will accumulate to $323.4 billion over a thirty-year period from 2014-15 to 2044-45.
What About Violence Against Men?
All violence is wrong, regardless of the sex of the victim or perpetrator. But there are distinct gendered patterns in the perpetration and impact of violence. Men are more likely to experience violence from other men. Women are more likely to experience violence from men they know, often in the home.
These senseless deaths need to stop. If you're suffering from domestic violence please reach out. If you know someone who is, please speak up.