Why White Ribbon Day Matters

Sunday, November 25th is White Ribbon Day and the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Why does this day matter? In Australia, ‘one woman is killed every week by a current or former partner. One in three women over the age of 15 report physical or sexual violence at some time in their lives. And domestic and family violence is the major cause of homelessness for women and their children, and a recognised form of child abuse.’

The Australian White Ribbon campaign website invites men to swear an oath and tell the world that violence against women is not acceptable. As the website says, it is a ‘male-led campaign that believes that most men are good and that good men abhor such violence. White Ribbon also believes in the capacity of the individual to change and to encourage change in others.’

We can make a difference together. And we must, because according to the largest study ever published on the problem of violence against women – a study conducted in 70 countries over 40 years – violence is ‘a bigger danger to women than cancer’. Those are very strong words, and words I certainly connect with, having experienced violence from male strangers and having also lost my mother to cancer when I was a teenager. Thankfully, the battle against cancer is being fought by researchers, doctors and brave survivors across the globe. But we must also fight against this other wide-reaching and harmful disease.

According to S. Laurel Weldon, co-author of the study, which has been published in the latest issue of American Political Science Review by Cambridge University Press:

‘Violence against women is a global problem. Research from North America, Europe, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia has found astonishingly high rates of sexual assault, stalking, trafficking, violence in intimate relationships, and other violations of women’s bodies and psyches. In Europe it is a bigger danger to women than cancer, with 45 per cent of European women experiencing some form of physical or sexual violence. Rates are similar in North America, Australia and New Zealand and studies in Asia, Latin America and Africa show that violence towards women there is ubiquitous.’

Not only did the study find that violence against women was a global problem, but they found that ‘feminist movements’ were the number one key to change, as ‘strong, autonomous feminist movements were the first to articulate the issue of violence against women and the key catalysts for government action, with other organisations sidelining issues perceived as being only important to women.’

Thank you to the men of White Ribbon for refusing to sideline this important issue. Domestic and sexual violence is a problem that affects all of us – men, women and children. We can make a change together.

* Find out more about White Ribbon programs in Australia.

* Read a post by Martin Pribble on the unfortunate vitriol he received for supporting White Ribbon Day. He breaks down the arguments against the campaign one by one.

* The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, also known informally as White Ribbon Day, is a day commemorated in my home country of Canada each December 6 on the anniversary of the 1989 École Polytechnique Massacre, in which fourteen women were singled out for their gender and murdered. The killer, who had been abused by his father, claimed to be ‘fighting feminism’.

4 Comments

  1. Ashleigh

    I just saw this ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaiBU8AdyBI

    In it, the Chief of Army swears an Oath – I find it extremely difficult to watch as this letter ( https://www.cadetnet.gov.au/aac/news-events/AAC_News/Pages/COMD%20MSG%20-%20NEW%20RSM%20AAC.pdf ) shows that the Chief of Army confirmed the appointment of my Father as the Regimental Sergeant Major with the NSW Army Cadets – shaping the minds of young Australians within the Defence Force. My Father was arrested for Domestic Violence on 23rd November 2009 – he was sentenced under Section 9 to a laughable 12 months good behaviour bond (what would he have gotten if he walked up to someone on the street and committed these acts?). This is on his record – the letter speaks of a ‘competitive selection process’, does this not include a Police background check? If it does, why – how – was he appointed?

    The sentencing of criminals that commit domestic abuse is dispicable, it flys in the face of all that we’re fighting for. The Oath taken by the men in uniform, particularly the Chief of Army wihtin in the White Ribbon Day video is a horrible joke – with actions removing all the power of those words.

  2. Thank you to all supporters of the White Ribbon movement and also thank you to Tara Moss for always being such a wonderful advocate for women’s and children’s rights. You are a strong feminist role model I can hold up to my three teenage daughters.

    On another point, let’s not forgot the link, I believe, which is emerging between online pornography and the increase in violence against woman and children. This is something we will really have to take a good hard look at when educating our youth in sex education.
    I am an advocate for sexual abuse prevention education for young children and have written a children’s book Some Secrets Should Neve Be Kept as a tool for parents and teachers. This is another area that educators need to take a good hard look at. In my experience, so do parents! Just as violence against women and children is so often swept under the carpet by family members, so is the sexual abuse of children in our own families.

  3. I happily support the White Ribbon movement. There is no doubt whatsoever that violence by men towards women occurs and far too often. I have seen it in my own extended family. Overall, men are stronger than women and have a moral obligation to NEVER abuse that.

    One observation – contrary to some more extremist views, domestic violence by women towards can men can actually occur – rarely compared to male against female, but it can occur. I used to work with a man whose wife periodically beat the proverbial out of him.

    I was so fortunate to grow up in a household that did not have any such violence in it.

  4. I think it is important to read this article left as a comment at my blog. It highlights the problems with the arguments and claims that a campaign calling for the and of violence toward women is exclusive, and the catchcry of “What about the men?”

    http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/10/18/phmt-argument/

    Of course men are victims of crime too, and violence from men is mostly perpetrated against men. But this doesn’t solve any problems. All it does is detract away from the aim of this campaign which is primarily to get men onside in the abhorrence of violence against women, and hopefully as a byproduct violence against all people.

    I wrote this short piece yesterday hoping to bring to further the conversation on the topic of violence against women.

    http://martinspribble.com/archives/3546

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