WHITE RIBBON DAY
Today is WHITE RIBBON DAY.
WHAT IS IT?
White Ribbon Australia is a non-profit organisation and Australia's only national, male-led primary prevention campaign to end men’s violence against women.
Through primary prevention initiatives and an annual campaign, White Ribbon Australia seeks to change the attitudes and behaviours that lead to and perpetuate men’s violence against women, by engaging boys and men to lead social change.
In particular, Australia's unique Ambassadors' Program supports thousands of men to be the faces and leaders of the campaign, by living the White Ribbon Oath: never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.
Women support White Ribbon Australia through their roles as White Ribbon Champions, encouraging the men in their lives to make a commitment to promote positive attitudes and behaviours towards women, as well as to intervene safely to prevent violence against women when needed.
White Ribbon Day celebrates the culmination of the annual campaign and global recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. As such, men and women are encouraged to wear a symbolic white ribbon on 25 November.
White Ribbon Day (25 November) also signals the start of the 16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence against Women, which ends on Human Rights Day (10 December).
HOW DID IT START?
Two years later, a handful of men in Toronto decided they had a responsibility to speak out about and work to stop men’s violence against women. As a result, the White Ribbon Campaign in Canada became an annual awareness-raising event, held between 25 November and 6 December.
In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly declared 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, with a white ribbon as its iconic symbol.
White Ribbon began in Australia in 2003 as part of UNIFEM (now UN Women), formally becoming a Foundation in 2007.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
And Australia is not immune.
Violence against women is a serious problem in Australia, where at least one woman is killed every week by a current or former partner.
The Australian Institute of Criminology reports that 36 per cent of all homicides take place in a domestic setting and 73 per cent of those involve a woman being killed by their male partner.
Furthermore, Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicates that that one in three Australian women over the age of 15 reports having experienced physical or sexual violence at some time in their lives.
The impact of violence against women is widespread and long-standing, generating profound personal, social and economic costs for individuals, communities and the nation.
In the 2009 Time for Action report, KPMG estimated that violence against women and their children cost the Australian economy $13.6 billion annually and this was expected to rise to $15.6 billion by 2021. In 2013, KPMG announced the annual cost had already reached US$14.7 billion.
Domestic and family violence is also the major cause of homelessness for women and their children. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s report, Specialist Homelessness Services 2011-12, shows that people experiencing domestic or family violence make up one-third of the almost 230,000 Australians that accessed specialist homelessness services in that period. Of such clients, 78 per cent were female.
WHY ENGAGE MEN IN WHITE RIBBON?
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.
The Campaign is a means for men to speak out against violence against women, and to safely and effectively challenge the attitudes and behaviours of a minority of men who use or condone violence against women.
White Ribbon Australia believes in the capacity of the individual to change and to encourage change in others. Our generation can and must work towards stopping violence against women so that all women can live in safety, free from violence and abuse.
The prevention of violence against women will change society for the better.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
If you witness a violent act, you can:
- Call the police.
- Be a witness. Stand far enough away to be safe but close enough for the violent person to see you and be aware that they are being watched.
- Get others’ support. Ask others who are nearby to help.
- Verbally intervene. Tell the violent person clearly that their actions are not okay, they are a crime, and you are calling the police. Ask the victim if they need help.
- “Are you okay, do you need a taxi?”
- Say something to the man: “Hey, what are you doing?” “That’s not on, mate.”
- Stick around to make sure the situation has cooled down.
- Create a distraction – so that the abused person has time to get away or the perpetrator slows down or ceases their violence. For example, ask a man harassing a woman on the street for directions or the time.