International Students Bashed in the Melbourne CBD

17 April 2020

CW: COVID-19, racism, physical and verbal assault

Two international students were assaulted in a racially motivated attack in the Melbourne CBD on 15 April. 

The incident occurred at approximately 5:30PM on Wednesday, when C and S* were walking down Elizabeth Street and saw two caucasian women shouting “coronavirus” and “get out of the country” to other Asian pedestrians. 

The students, studying at the University of Melbourne, recounted to Farrago that the women began directing their verbal abuse at them when they made eye contact. They tried to walk away but the altercation became physical after one of the women said, “I’m going to kill you”. 

“She grabbed something and threw it at [C]’s head,” S said, and claimed that the woman’s friend blocked her from helping C. 

The assailant grabbed C’s head and repeatedly punched and kicked, as shown in a video that later emerged online, filmed by a witness. 

“[C] and I are both really scared to go outside,” S told Farrago, and C described the incident as “traumatizing”. 

They said they were subject to several instances of verbal abuse in the past month. C said she wanted to speak out this time but did not expect to be assaulted in broad daylight. 

The pair reported the incident to Victoria Police, and wanted to share the video so that the women can be caught. 

“This could happen to anyone,” C said, “If they’re not caught, they think it’s fine for them to do this to other people, but other people might not be lucky enough to have someone film it at that moment, and it might end up worse for them.”

“It’s not okay for you to use the virus to take out your hatred towards Asians.”

Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell said in a media statement, “This is a disgusting and unprovoked attack on two of our female students. There is no place for violence in a modern, future-facing society like Australia. These senseless and vicious attacks on two young women must never be tolerated in our community.  The people who did this are a disgrace.”

There has been an increase of anti-Asian hate crimes around the world. The Guardian reported that a survey of COVID-19 racism against Asian Australians recorded 178 incidents in the last two weeks. Last month, a 17-year-old girl was arrested for a “racist spitting attack” in Marrickville. 

*Names have been removed for confidentiality reasons.

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