Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Walk The Talk - Stop Violence Against Women

Millions of women worldwide continue to experience injustice, violence and inequality in their homes, the work place and public life. Domestic violence is outlawed in 125 countries but still 603 million women worldwide live in countries where domestic violence is not a crime. There is no doubt that there is a global pandemic of violence against women and children. The details of what women and girls around the world are subject to are horrific from being raped by their teachers, to being jailed for adultery after rape to constant beatings by family and partners.

In Australia one in three women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15. Almost one in five have experienced sexual violence. These women are our neighbours, our family, our friends, our sisters, mothers and daughters and in some cases us. They are the 1.2 million women or 15 percent of all women who have experienced violence at the hands of their previous partner. 16 000 plus who have endured violence from their current partner.

In Victoria we have been told that Victoria Police responds to close to 140 incidents of family violence every day. These occur in every suburb of melbourne from doveton to toorak - from hawthorn to epping. That is close to one incident every 10 minutes and those are only the incidents we know about. Australian Bureau of Statistics data tells us that onlyone in ten women report violence and of those very few report to the authorities. Most people tell a friend or family member. Two high profile murders of women have made us think that the streets are dangerous places whereas the reality is that women are more at risk from their nearest and dearest when they are at home.
But before we despair we know that things have started to change. Governments have started to try and deal with this plague of violence. The federal government has a ten year plan to reduce violence against women and their children. This plan commenced in 2012 and involves all the state and territory governments. The plans vary from state to state but they all have the same intention to reduce the level of violence, increase services and prevention programs and hold men accountable for violent behaviour.
In Victoria the government has invested $175 million to increase services, reduce and prevent violence against women. This money has been used amongst other things to
  1. Provide additional services for women and children leaving violent situations including increasing access to after hours services and support to allow women and children to stay at home safely
  2. Increase access to private rental programs and women’s refuges for women and children for whom it is too dangerous to remain in their homes
  3. Increase the use of the family violence common risk assessment pro forma to help people recognise situations which are highly dangerous and might end with a woman or her children being killed. We all know that the most dangerous time for a woman in a violent relationship is as she is leaing or just after.
  4. Develop violence prevention curriculum material for schools
  5. Increase access for violent men to behaviour change programs
Is this changing anything? I would argue it has and does. I can remember 40 years ago when the women’s liberation halfway house collective started the first women’s refuge using money from collective members. The women against rape collective took phone calls in the evening from women who had been raped recently. There was no service system. There was no government funding. There was no community awareness.

We had no money, no services and no government commitment. We did have something very powerful at that time. We had a firm belief that we could change the system. We knew we could fight and would win. We underestimated how long it would take. We must still fight and we will win. It just takes more time than we thought 40 years ago.
So what can we all do now to bring about more change. We can
  1. Call the police if we see or hear evidence of domestic violence
  2. Support a friend or family member who may be in an abusive relationship
  3. Volunteer at a refuge or other organisation that helps survivors or works to prevent violence
  4. Raise children to respect others.
  5. Raise boys not to be violent.
  6. Participate in events like this one today
  7. Volunteer in youth programs. Become mentors. Get involved in programs that teach children and adolescents about respectful non violent relationships
  8. Ask about anti-violence policies and programs at work and school
  9. Talk with our friends and respectful non violent relationships
  10. Challenge people who make sexist remarks or perpetuate myths about family violence and sexual assault .
Margaret mead once commented
‘Never believe that a few caring people cannot change the world. For indeed that is all that ever has.” 

You are the few caring people. Go ahead and change the world.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Twitter

It is hard to understand why anyone would think it is acceptable to have pictures of children being abused on a social media site.  Twitter needs to address this problem immediately.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Voices of Hope - Nicoll

Nicoll was assaulted by a man who had contacted her on Facebook where her business had a page. Nicoll talks eloquently about the confusion women experience when unexpectedly attacked by someone you know in a different guise.