Yesterday, November 25th, was the 15th anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The 2013 World Health Organization report discovered that intimate partner violence is the most common type of violence against women, affecting 30 per cent of women worldwide.
I was baffled when reading some coverage stories of the speeches, marches and events held to raise awareness of White Ribbon Day and to stop violence against women. Why is it that today, one day later, the comments of articles are filled with people commenting on why they do not support the cause.
One commenter on a news.com.au article says, “How come it’s not for both men and women? Why do we split these awareness campaigns into sexes when it affects all people?”, while another continued on the Daily Telegraph, “I for one dont [sic] support White Ribbon Day as it is very gender specific. Instead of Violence Against Women , it should target the general community as you have gave an example of a baby being thrown into a storm water drain., no-one male or female should not be subject to violence. Lets not forget Women also commit violence towards other people and they are no angels either. But unfortunatey [sic] there are too many pro women events…”. As many other news websites disabled their comments for these very sensitive articles, these 2 comments are incredibly articulate compared to the disgusting things you will read on social media comment sections.
No one is saying it does not also happen in reverse. No one is suggesting the victims in those circumstances are any less hurt than others. What White Ribbon is addressing, is the incomprehensible volume of violence that is committed by men to women.
While some people struggle to understand why we hold an international day to eliminate violence against women, the facts are these:
- On average every week one woman is killed by her current or former partner in Australia.
- One in three women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by someone known to them.
- Intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health in Australian women aged 15-44.
This is just in Australia. We have safer statistics than most countries in the world.
Chief of army David Morrison expressed many frustrations well when he explained, “If we lost someone to a shark every single week, there would be, as there already are, laws to do something about it.” The 11th year of White Ribbon Day in Australia is a a male-led campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence, and it is incredibly important.
Violence against women at the hands of men is completely disproportionate. Women across the world are over-represented in sexual assaults, physical assault and even murder – just as violence in indigeneous communities, or areas of poverty see a further spike.
White Ribbon is relevant, as it objects to all violence against women. It aims to create awareness, educate and change views on what is okay behind closed doors, and what is not. It starts with men teaching other men not to be violent. As a 22 year old woman, I still lock my doors when driving alone at night. I am afraid, and I have reason to be. Numbers do not lie, and when I have seen some of my closest friends beaten by their partners, raped by someone I trusted or preyed upon because they were alone at the wrong place wrong time – I will remain afraid until the day those statistics begin to drop.
Domestic violence was, and always will remain a controversial issue. That does not mean you should not support it as it does not support women against male violence. You are ignorant if you think it does not, of course it does. It merely first and foremost aims at addressing the inherent issue within our societies worldwide. Not supporting White Ribbon Day is the same as not supporting Movember because you don’t have a prostate, or choosing not to support Kids Helpline because you are an adult, or you don’t have your own children. Do you realise how ridiculous that seems?
White Ribbon women’s safety a man’s issue too. As White Ribbon explains on it’s website,
“The victims are not merely statistics; they are wives, sisters, mothers, daughters and friends. Good men cannot and will not sit on the sidelines while those they love are at risk of harm.
The White Ribbon Campaign is about recognising the positive role that men play in preventing violence against women. It fosters and encourages male leadership in the prevention of violence against women, based on the understanding that most men are not violent.”
I can’t comprehend why this is a cause you wouldn’t want to support. We no that it is not all men. Violence against women remains unacceptable and the consequences of violence against women last for generations. This is why we need White Ribbon Day. Women are still grossly abused daily in many circumstances. We are overrepresented. This needs to change, now.
I swear never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.