White ribbon events hope to combat family violence

White Ribbon Day itself, November 25, will be marked in Cambridge with a stall set up outside Cambridge PaperPlus in Victoria St.   The anti-violence initiative will continue on Saturday November 28 with a ‘Walk in Her Shoes’ event at the Cambridge Athletic Club Christmas Market on Vogel St, starting at 10.30am.  Both are organised by Violence Free Waipā, and people are invited to join in the march to end violence against women – the idea is to do it in heels and challenge outdated ideas.

Ruth Nicholls, Violence Free Waipa’s anti-violence co-ordinator for Cambridge.

The annual White Ribbon campaign aimed at combating domestic violence is set to take place throughout New Zealand communities at the end of November.

The 2020 campaign theme is #outdated.  It focuses on how stereotypes often handed down from male role models may appear harmless, but can carry messages with a potentially negative impact. Messages like ‘show them who’s boss’, ‘kids should keep quiet’, or treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen’ have long been heard, say organisers, but can be at the root of unhealthy attitudes and behaviours. The campaign this year is seeking to promote respectful relationships as an alternative.

The message is carried locally through Violence Free Waipā, a network of organisations working together to combat violence and abuse through education, awareness and empowering people to speak out. It also increases awareness of support services available for both victims and perpetrators.

Ruth Nicholls, Violence Free Waipa’s anti-violence co-ordinator for Cambridge said they were staging two events this year in support of the White Ribbon initiative – one a stall on November 25 in the centre of Cambridge, and the other a march on November 28 at the Cambridge Athletic Club.

Ruth said information coming via White Ribbon Australia showed 42 percent of young men do not consider punching and hitting as domestic violence, while 43 percent do not view frightening, humiliating, degrading or punishing a person as domestic abuse.

“This is shocking, and while we don’t have a similar study in New Zealand, police data for the year to August shows that women make up 90 percent of those violently assaulted by a partner or ex, and 98.6 percent of those sexually assaulted by a partner or ex,” she said. “We have the highest rate of reported violence towards women in the developed world.

“Violence in our communities remains appallingly high. If we are to tackle it we need to focus on the attitudes that enable young men to think violence is OK.”

She said Women’s Refuge CEO Dr Ang Jury agreed: “We are seeing consistently high numbers of women and families taking refuge from violent men. As a country we need to take this opportunity and look at the causes of the violence. If we want to have a courageous discussion, then let’s talk about what constitutes masculinity and ensure our young men are being supported to grow up with healthy attitudes about masculinity that support respectful relationships.

“The reality is that until we overwrite the ideas that allow men to think they can humiliate, degrade or use physical violence against anyone, we will continue to see outrageous numbers of women forced to use refuges throughout New Zealand,” said Dr Jury.

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