Today is the United Nations declared International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Children – and the start of 16 days of Activism.
The 2016 theme is Orange Your World: Raise money to end violence against women and girls. Today is also White Ribbon Day, a campaign that encourages men to stand up and take action to end men’s violence against women. While there has been significant focus on the issue of men’s violence against women and children in recent years, little has changed. To date this year, 68 Australian women have been killed by men. Beyond that figure, many more women have been abused – most of whom, we know nothing about. They are living in fear.
The statistics cannot be ignored:
- Women are three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner and intimate partner violence is the biggest contributor to ill health and premature death in women aged 15–44.
- One in three women have experienced physical violence; one in five have experienced sexual violence; and one in four have experienced intimate partner violence, since the age of 15.
- Domestic violence is the largest driver of homelessness for women.
- Violence against women costs the Australian economy $21.7 billion per year.
Yes, men can also be victims – and regardless of gender, violence is always unacceptable. But ‘what about men’ conversations do nothing to address what is the national crisis of violence against women.
The statistics cannot be ignored. Men are more likely to be victims at the hands of other men in public places, while women mostly experience violence from males known to them. The majority of violent acts, against both genders, are perpetrated by men and the majority of rape and sexual assaults are perpetrated by men against women. Our society allows appalling attitudes towards women to exist, and every girl and woman is affected by gender inequality. There is much evidence to show this inequality is the driver of men’s violence towards women. The solution rests with creating a world where girls and women are given equal support to participate in society. This week, we will see various governments commit to plans to address this crisis – but we need to see them take heed of the 2016 activism theme, and funding needs to be sufficient.
Nicole Ferrie, editor