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Violence against women and girls must be stopped

05 May 2014

white ribbon

One of the things I’m particularly interested in having a conversation about is violence against women and children, and in particular, young girls.

I am sure there are some of us in this country who believe there’s no such thing as a child bride, and that we don’t have a problem with violence committed against women.

Well, let me say, that would be delusional.

The issue of violence in our homes, workplaces, communities and schools is staggering. According to an Australian Government paper on Domestic Violence and the issues surrounding it released in 2011 the “most likely scenario for the homicide of an Australian woman is at home at the hands of an intimate partner”.

In fact, White Ribbon Australia’s Annual Review 2012/2013 has these facts about Australia:

One woman is killed every week in Australia by a current or former partner

Domestic and family violence is the principle cause of homelessness for women and their children

Violence against women and their children costs the Australian economy $14.7 billion annually

Intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health in Australian women aged 15-44

One of our Ruby members Sadhana Smiles, the CEO of real estate business Harcourts Victoria partnered with White Ribbon Australia for the annual Walk a Mile in Their Shoes fundraiser on Friday, May 9, 2014.

Donning a pair of high heels might not be your cup of tea but having a conversation about how we educate young women and men around attitudes to violence is something we should all consider.

White Ribbon Australia is a non-profit organisation which seeks to change the attitudes and behaviours that lead to and perpetuate men’s violence against women, by engaging boys and men to be the faces and leaders of the campaign.

Men are asked to swear the White Ribbon Oath: never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. To find out more about White Ribbon, visit the website www.whiteribbon.org.au 

For information and referral to local services, 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or www.1800respect.org.au

And I haven’t even touched on wider issues of economic and social violence; human trafficking for sex, and something that really makes me wild, child brides.

Just the other day my daughter, Tiffany, sent me this link to an Upworthy YouTube posting entitled “Wedding Photos Are Supposed To Be Happy. And, Oh Yeah, Not Have A 14-Year-Old Bride In Them.”

http://www.upworthy.com/wedding-photos-are-supposed-to-be-happy-and-oh-yeah-not-have-a-14-year-old-bride-in-them?g=2&c=ufb3

What I found terrifying – other than the absolute wrongness of the situation - were the facts quoted in the piece: “5 million girls are married under the age of 15 every year. Child marriage exists around the world. In South Asia, South-Saharan Africa, the Middle East to North Africa and Australia. It's across regions, cultures, and religions.”

So how do we make a difference? Is it about sanctions or “name and shame” or is it through girls’ empowerment and education?

This from Hillary Clinton (former Secretary of State) might provide one way: “The evidence shows us and common sense shows us as well, that education can delay and even prevent child marriage. It can raise incomes and it can certainly improve health.”

I reckon, like Hillary, education makes real sense but it’s also about empowering those individuals within their own societies (including government and local officials, community elders, fathers, mothers, men, boys, teachers, religious leaders, etc., etc.) to make the difference.

And here in Australia I think it’s about making sure the conversation continues and that we educate all members of the community to understand that support is there to make change.

There must be other thoughts you might have on navigating our way through the entrenched problem of violence against women and Inspiring Change around the issue?

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