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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 26 November 2014) . . Page.. 4037 ..


White Ribbon Day raises a number of facts. It is the only national, male-led campaign to end men’s violence against women. Over 12 months, on average, one woman is killed every week as a result of intimate partner violence. If a woman is killed by her male partner, it is most likely to occur at home. Domestic and family violence are the principal causes of homelessness for women and their children. Intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill health in Australian women aged 15 to 44. One in three women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by someone known to them. One in four children are exposed to domestic violence, a recognised form of child abuse. One in five women experience harassment within the workplace.

White Ribbon Day works to change the attitudes and the behaviours that lead to and perpetuate violence against women by engaging and enabling men to lead social change. White Ribbon began in Australia in 2003 and works to change the attitudes and behaviours that lead to this problem.

The victims of violence are often mothers. They are daughters, sisters and wives. They are valuable and their safety should be of concern to all of us.

With regard to incidents of domestic violence, this is not confined to a specific socioeconomic group in our society; it occurs across all sectors regardless of socioeconomic background, religious belief, education level, occupation or profession, community position, or cultural and ethnic background. No group is immune; research shows that domestic violence crosses all boundaries and impacts the whole family, not just the women being victimised.

The research shows that one in four children will be exposed to domestic violence. There are children who grow up in homes where they are exposed to violence at the hands of fathers and stepfathers, who struggle to adjust later in life, who may never know what a healthy family could look like.

One woman I know told me how she lived with domestic violence for most of her childhood. Her stepfather frequently terrorised the family with bouts of rage that always ended in some form of violence. There were tirades of verbal abuse and physical attacks that got more and more violent as the years went on, ultimately culminating in him attacking her with a knife and breaking her nose. She shared how she regularly feared for her life and how, leaving home at 15, braving life on her own with limited life skills and no place to go, seems a far better prospect than staying and waiting for an assault that could be fatal. All the neighbours knew what was going on—and several school teachers—but nobody stood up for this young girl.

Violence against women is not confined to domestic relationships; it is far more wide reaching and, sadly, more prevalent. Research shows that one in five women have experienced sexual violence. This has to be the worst kind of violence for most women. Fifteen per cent of those who are sexually assaulted are assaulted by a person they know, and almost four per cent of these women are sexually assaulted by a stranger.


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