November 25 is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – White Ribbon Day
Yesterday, Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay spoke at the Royal Women’s Hospital White Ribbon Day breakfast, delivering a very moving speech outlining the extent of domestic violence against women in the state of Victoria on a daily basis. It is a heartfelt and disturbing picture painted, and really brings home the reality of the situation we face as a society. He concluded the speech with these words:
“The problem is every one of us who laughs at that revolting joke which severely degrades women – knowing we shouldn’t.
“It is those of us who verbally abuse and physically intimidate women in the way those young French women were abused on a Melbourne suburban bus a couple of weeks ago.
“It is every one of us who doesn’t say something when we start to suspect something isn’t right with our friends.
“We create the environment in which these people – who are 95% men – think it is ok to do what they do.
“Violence against women is not ok, it is not acceptable. It is a major issue for every police agency across Australia and internationally. It is also not just a policing problem – violence against women is a public health problem; it is an education problem. Police cannot stop family violence on our own.
“It is the responsibility of every man in this room to stop it.”
That these acts of violence take place here in my home, at a rate of 140 acts of violence against women a day in Victoria is a shocking statistic. My heart goes out to all the women of the world who are subjected to domestic and societal violence at the hands of men. Spare a thought for those women who are abused beaten by the Taliban in Afghanistan for the crime of showing an inch of skin at their ankles. Think about the women who have acid thrown in their faces for the crime of looking at a man. Remember the tragic murder of 3 teenage sisters in Canada, killed by their parents and brother in an apparent honour killing. Their crime? “The girls had indulged in what their father thought was outrageous behaviour – seeing non-Muslim boys, texting and wearing western clothes.”Think of the bravery of Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the head by a Taliban member, on a public bus after having completed an exam for school. Her crime? Demanding the rights for Pakistani girls to receive a decent education, just like the boys in her area.
Remember the Montreal Massacre of 1989, where 14 women were gunned down and a further 10 wounded at their university for the crime of being female.
Today, November 25, is the UN supported International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and also White Ribbon Day. If you don’t know what White Ribbon Day is about, take a moment to read my earlier article about where it started and what it’s about.
The problem is huge, it goes beyond domestic violence into a societal problem, one where women are seen as less than men on so many levels. The violence against women is a learned behaviour, one where the children learn this disrespect from their family and peers. This behaviour does not appear suddenly as if from a vacuum. I have been fortunate enough to have been raised by a family that taught me respect for all others. Not all are so fortunate.
I stand here proudly, as a man, and show my support for all men to have the guts to stand up for what is a glaring problem in the world. Disrespect for women must stop, the violent and scornful attitudes against women must stop,and it’s up to all of us to make this happen. We don’t do this at the expense of mens rights. We do this because it’s the right thing to do. There is no downside to this argument; there is only a healthier society and a more equal and safe world.
Have the guts to stand with me, and take the pledge. I’ve got your back.