Hundreds of women and children have marched together in far north Queensland to raise awareness about violence and sexual offences against women, days after the suspected murder of 24-year-old Toyah Cordingley.
Up to 700 people gathered in Cairns on Friday night for the Reclaim the Night walk, an event with added significance due to the case that has rocked the far north Queensland region.
Sadness, fear and anger are some of the words people at the march have used to describe their feelings after Ms Cordingley’s death.
Many also said they felt helpless, and taking part in the walk was a way to show solidarity while police continue to hunt for the killer.
Kirby Mitchell, who went to school with Ms Cordingley, said it was good to come together as a group to send a strong message that things need to change.
“It’s a very emotional time for everyone,” she said.
“It’s traumatic for a lot of people. It’s not fair that so many people have to be suffering at the moment.”
Yarrabah Aboriginal elder Elverina Johnson said the woman’s death had hit close to home.
“We don’t just want to reclaim the night, we want to reclaim the day. We want to wear whatever we want to wear, do whatever we want to do,” she told the crowd.
Cairns resident Elizabeth Reeves said she brought her four daughters to the march to pay their respects.
“I wanted the girls to have think about what had happened to her and their own safety,” she said.
“Toyah could’ve been me, she could’ve been them, she could’ve been my sister.
The event had been planned prior to Ms Cordingley’s death, but Reclaim the Night walk organiser Georgia Babatsikos, who manages the Cairns Sexual Assault Service, said the crowd wanted to show their support.
“Women should feel safe to go out in public at night, and day for that matter, without the risk of being harmed,” she said.
“We are getting feedback that this community event is even more critical now than ever before.
“Reclaim the Night is an opportunity for the Cairns community to come together and reclaim public spaces as safe and accessible for everyone, at any time, regardless of age or gender.”
Homicide investigators are yet to make any arrests, as they continue to piece together what happened in Ms Cordingley’s final moments.
The Cairns pharmacy worker’s body was found on Monday at Wangetti Beach, south of Port Douglas.
Police said the 24-year-old was at Rusty’s Market in Cairns between midday and 1:00pm on Sunday, before she was seen leaving in a blue Mitsubishi Lancer.
She then returned home briefly and travelled towards the Northern Beaches about 1:30pm.
Police said the car was spotted travelling through Clifton Beach just before 2:00pm and again at the southern carpark of Wangetti Beach.
Her body was discovered by a search party and her large dog that had she had taken to the beach was found tied up and unharmed.
More than 240 people have made calls to Crime Stoppers this week and police are chasing more than 50 leads from the information offered.
Detective Inspector Sonia Smith said they were still appealing for information from the public to help solve Ms Cordingley’s suspected murder.
“We’re asking anybody that frequents the beach in the last weeks or months, have they seen anything suspicious while they’ve been there,” she said.
Topics: crime, murder-and-manslaughter, community-and-society, domestic-violence, qld, cairns-4870
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