Thousands of Australians took part in the annual White Ribbon Walk from Randwick to Coogee Beach in Sydney.
The fund raising event in Sydney is just one of the many events across Australia today. The men-led campaign called White Ribbon Day is the largest international pro women movement that seeks to end violent behaviours against women.
The annual awareness campaign starts 25 November, which is also the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women and ends on Human Rights Day, 10 December.
The 16-day activism campaign aims to engage and enable men and boys to lead the social change by changing attitudes and behaviour.
White Ribbon Day is an international campaign that was started by a group of men in Canada in 1991 when 14 female students died in a brutal mass shooting at the University of Montreal.
The United Nations officially recognised 25 November as International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women.
It is “a symbol of hope for a world where women and girls can live free from the fear of violence. Wearing the ribbon is about challenging the acceptability of violence – by getting men involved, helping women to break the silence, and encouraging everyone to come together to build a better world for all.”
Still, years after the first White Ribbon Day, violence against women is still pandemic, unwomen.org released an Infographic about Violence against women around the world.
Domestic Violence in Australia
Australian of the Year awardee and family activist, Rosie Batty is front and centre in this campaign as the nation witnessed more than 60 women lost to domestic violence this year alone.
A 2014 study from the data gathered from police crime recording systems and based on Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) flag show that the number of victims of family and domestic violence-related assault offences reached 28,780 victims in New South Wales followed by
Western Australia with 14,603 victims.
Meanwhile, Victoria has the highest number of sexual assault related to family and domestic violence with 1,321 victims.
Homicide related to family and domestic violence report show that there are 95 victims all across Australia except in Australian Capital Territory.
To read more, click on the link: Experimental Family and Domestic Violence StatisticsCulture and Consciousness
The latest research commissioned by the federal government revealed that victim blaming is part of Australian’s consciousness.
Despite efforts and strong community support, research revealed that children are taught to understate the “severity of family violence.”
Research found that young men are taught to blame others for violence. Giving the excuse that boy will be boys or that it is somehow a rite of passage.
Young women, on the other hand, internalised the experienced by blaming themselves.
Participants of the research were given hypothetical scenarios of gender inequality and aggression. Participants were also told that the male and female characters in the scenarios given do not know each other.
Still, participants “automatically question the role of the female before rebuking the behaviour described.” Actions of men in these scenarios are usually given the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, women were given the burden of proof to establish that no provocation had occurred.”
A concrete example to demonstrate just how much these attitudes are firmly in place in Australian’s consciousness, a teenage boy told researchers “Perhaps the girl is not giving him attention, ” while girls are quick to make excuses saying that the victim “might have done something to him in the past.”
What is the Government saying?
Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said that the results of the research are disturbing. He believes that it is “utterly unacceptable” that “many people were ready to excuse and diminish behaviour and blame the victim.”
Further, he said that domestic violence is a “national disgrace.”
In Stand Up to Violence event in Canberra, he was quoted saying:
“All violence against women begins with disrespecting women … the single most important thing each and every one of us can do as parents, especially as fathers and as mothers, is to make sure that our sons respect their mothers and their sisters,”
He believes that teaching respect to children and everyone else is “absolutely critical” to end the violence.
For Turnbull, “not all disrespect of women ended up in violence against women. But that was where all violence against women began.”
Furthermore, the Prime Minister firmly states that it is “absolutely critically important. We can genuinely change the culture.”
Opposition leader Bill Shorten asserts that violence against women is “all about power.” He announced that the Labor government plans an inclusion of a five days paid domestic and family violence leave in the National Employment Standards.
A number of employers are already implementing this including Telstra, NAB, Virgin Australia, IKEA and Blundstone Boots.
Ms. Batty adds “We need improved responses and funding because we haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg yet,”
The Turnbull government is said to provide $100 million and an additional $60 million from New South Wales Premier, Mike Baird.
Michaelia Cash, senator and minister for women, said the jointly funded $30 million national campaign to reduce violence against women will begin early next year. This campaign is “to equip influencers to help break the cycle.”
Back in Sydney, young boys and men walked together to let the world know that violence against women is not acceptable or excusable and ultimately to end aggressive and violent behaviours against women.
They took an oath and a pledge “to stay strong, to never tolerate violence, not to walk past what they see and to say something.” Participants believe that men need to respect women much more, stand up and fight for the cause.
Commissioner Scipione also urged victims to stop tolerating domestic violence and report to police to get help.
A social media campaign was also launched featuring #ARealManSaysNo
As Turnbull puts it,
“The answer lies within all of us men to make this change….We have to lead by example and the most important place to lead by example is with our children and our grandchildren.”
For all men out there, you have a mother; you probably have a sister, a wife and/or a daughter too. The probability of violence against any of them is present.
The question is what are you going to do about it?
If you want to participate in White Ribbon Day events in your state, check White Ribbon website.