Aiia Maasarwe, a 21-year-old Arab-Israeli student who was in Melbourne as part of her studies at Shanghai University, was returning home after a comedy show when she was attacked shortly after midnight on Wednesday.
“Everyone has the right to get home safely”
“This was an horrific attack… inflicted on a completely innocent young woman who was a visitor to our city,” said homicide squad detective inspector Andrew Stamper.
Passers-by discovered Maasarwe’s body near a tram stop on Wednesday morning. Stamper said he believed she had departed a tram shortly before the attack.
He confirmed reports she was on a video call to her sister at the time.
Tributes to Maasarwe have been laid near the site where her body was discovered, with one message reading: “Everyone has the right to get home safely”.
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Bundoora, north of Melbourne’s CBD, is a popular suburb for international and domestic students to live. Both RMIT and La Trobe universities have campuses there.
International student advocacy group ISANA said it was saddened by the news and urged the public to assist the police in their investigation, adding it would provide support for La Trobe staff affected by the events.
“Our network of members is always available to work or talk with colleagues to support them through difficult events such as this,” ISANA president Bronwyn Gilson said.
Police are currently asking for assistance from the community, and several items of clothing were recovered from the scene. They have not released details of the attack out of respect for Maasarwe’s family.