Violence against women is never okay

Saturday is White Ribbon Day - the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.  With our media full of horrendous stories of violence; with trafficking of women and children firmly on the agenda; with our families and friends hurting because violence is part of their lives, I would like to share some information sent to Online Catholics by Paula McLeod.  She writes …

Did you know Australian research has shown that:
. more than 1 million Australian women have experienced violence during a relationship;
. 600,000 of these women have said they lived in fear during the relationship;
. 20 per cent of women who have experienced violence were pregnant when violence first occurred?

Did you know that thousands of men in Australia will wear a White Ribbon on November 25 this year to encourage all men to condemn violence against women?

White Ribbon Day was created by several Canadian men in 1991 on the second anniversary of one man's massacre of 14 women in Montreal. They began the White Ribbon Campaign to urge men to speak out against violence against women.

In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly declared November 25 the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW). The White Ribbon has become the day’s symbol.

From 2000, the Commonwealth Government Office for Women ran awareness activities on the international day, and, in 2003, the Australian branch of the United Nations Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM, began a partnership with men and men's organisations to make this a national campaign.

Ten thousand white ribbons were distributed in 2003.  In 2004, 200,000 White Ribbons were worn by men and women across Australia - men at work; men and women in all Australian police forces; men in national and local sporting matches and organisations; men in the media; men and women in politics; men in the defence forces; men and women in capital cities and in rural and regional Australia.

In 2005 the White Ribbon Campaign grew even stronger and almost 250,000 ribbons were distributed across the country and beyond.

According to the official White Ribbon Day website, men wear white ribbons because:

  • We have heard about the pain and suffering that violence inflicts on women. We know that a fist in the face, a kick in the ribs, being forced into sex, and having one's daily life controlled, policed and tormented are horrible things that should never happen;

  • We know that it is men's wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends whose lives are limited by violence and abuse; and - whether we know about it or not - many of the women we know have been subject to men's violence;

  • We want girls and women, and boys and men, to be free from the threat of other men's violence;

  • We know that we, and all men, will benefit from a world free of violence against women, a world based on gender equality. In our relations with women - instead of experiencing distrust and disconnection - we will find closeness and connection. We will be able to take up a healthier, emotionally in-touch and proud masculinity.

Former Governor General and well-known Catholic Sr William Deane is the day’s patron.  Cardinal George Pell is one of the many prominent men from a wide range of community sectors who is a White Ribbon ambassador.

Says Paula,

Individuals can encourage partners, lovers, friends, sons, relatives and colleagues to wear a white ribbon.

Social Justice and other groups can raise awareness in their parishes of violence against women in our community by accessing the many resources available for free on the website.

Silence and inaction look like compliance.

Let’s see men and women, young and old from all parts of our community wearing white ribbons on November 25.  Let’s put an end to the destructive cycle of violence against women.

And if November 25 has come too quickly for you to mobilise yourself and others, the day also begins 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence which ends on International Human Rights Day – December 10.  An events calendar for the 16 days is online.

Blessings on your week – a week in which we all act towards making our communities and families safer; where love, dignity and respect  - for others and ourselves – reign.

Penny Edman





The graphic design and web content management for this edition of Online Catholics has been prepared by Ian James, of JGD Graphic + Web Melbourne.


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