‘Too Old and Ugly’: Charlotte Dawson’s Friend Call for Charlotte’s Law
By Athena Yenko | February 24, 2014 12:41 PM EST
On Feb 12, Charlotte Dawson, 47, posted on Twitter:
"Up and at em Sydney, it's going to be a great day"
She was optimistic and positive.
However she had always been open about her depression and had in fact fought against Twitter trolls.
Admiringly, she had been an advocate for the mentally ill.
In a recent tweet she said: ''We have the hospitals/resources & the doctors & professors willing to help. Where is the govt support?''
On top of this advocacy and seemingly sunshiny personality, she had been a victim of harsh tweets from online trolls. Some of whom told her to hang herself and that she was too old and ugly to be a model. Harsh tweets went like "neck yourself you filthy s***" and "please put your face in a toaster".
MS Dawson had reportedly been in the middle of a financial trouble having borrowed approximately $80,000 from friends in order to keep her apartment. Being axed from Foxtel TV show Australia's Next Top Model and cutting tie with Chic management apparently because she was mentally ill and its "damaging her brand."
On Saturday, Ms Dawson committed suicide and was found dead in her apartment in Woolloomooloo Sydney. It was believed that her troubles - financial and being harassed online - took a toll at her.
Loved ones believed that the abuse from the social media worsen her depression leading her to take her life.
Consequently, an online petition for the Australian government to create a law against online bullying - Charlotte's Law: Tougher Cyber Bullying Legislation - had been launched through Change.org. It particularly called for the government to create a law with a tougher stance on cyber bullies and for social media channels to have rules which imposed heavier answerability from its users.
Ms Dawson's friends, led by Em Mastronardi, started the petition.
On Monday, the petition already had 8,000 signatures.
"We ask that the Australian Government and the state governments enforce the existing anti-bullying and harassment laws, and take action against those who violate them. We ask that Social Media companies take a more active role in the prevention of cyber bullying, and take more responsibility in monitoring posts of hate. We ask that together we unite to change the cyber bullying platform," Mastronardi wrote through Change.org.
Paul Fletcher, the government's secretary for communications acknowledge Ms Dawson's death and said it was tragic. However, he was honest to say that children victims are the government's top priority in creating cyber-bullying laws.
"In our society there are a range of areas where we put in place extra protections for children in recognition of the fact that they are not necessarily able to make judgments or protect themselves in the same way that adults are. There's always a dividing line to be drawn at some point," Mr Fletcher said.
To which former Family Court Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson said: "I don't think we can stop at children. There's a bit of the old concept that. Oh yes, we were all bullied at school, and we got over it' ... This is a much more serious problem than we've ever accepted," he told AAP on Sunday.
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