Page 455 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 16 February 2005

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That this Assembly:

(1) acknowledges that in the ACT, Australia and the world, women and girls comprise the majority of victims of domestic, family, sexual and cultural violence;

(2) notes that violence, including gender-based violence, costs Australia billions of dollars each year;

(3) recognises that ending gender-based violence requires the dedication and assistance of all members of the community;

(4) recognises the important role community groups, awareness programs and events such as the White Ribbon Day play in raising awareness about gender-based violence; and

(5) acknowledges the ACT Government’s and others commitment to reducing the incidence of gender-based violence.

Violence against women and girls is pervasive worldwide. In no country of the world are women immune and in no city of the world are they unaffected by gender-based violence—even in the ACT. In the ACT, women are overwhelmingly the majority of victims of sexual assault and domestic, family and cultural violence. Statistics show that one in three women over the age of 45 has experienced domestic violence, and 89 per cent of all reported sexual assaults during 2003 were perpetrated against women. Worldwide, a quarter of all women are raped during their lifetime. Depending on the country, 25 per cent to 75 per cent of women are regularly beaten at home and more than 120 million women have undergone female genital mutilation. The United Nations Development Fund for Women, or UNIFEM, report Not a Minute More: Ending Violence Against Women released in 2003 reveals that one in three women or girls will suffer violence during their lifetime simply because of their gender. The report states:

One in three. That stark figure sums up the crisis confronting women throughout the world. Of the three girls sitting in the classroom, learning to read and write, one will suffer violence directed at her simply because she is female. Of three women sitting in the market, selling their crops, one will be attacked—most likely by her intimate partner—and hurt so severely she may no longer be able to provide for her family. Throughout the world, the violence will be repeated: globally, one in three women will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.

Violence perpetrated against women and girls can shatter families, destroy relationships and emotionally and physically scar victims forever. Take Victorian teenager Angela Baker, who was so severely bashed by her boyfriend in 2002 that she was left brain-damaged, confined to a wheelchair and unable to talk. During her two-year relationship, her boyfriend initially verbally humiliated Angela and then became physically violent. He was always sorry afterwards and would lavish gifts on her before starting the abuse again. As reported in the Canberra Times on 24 November 2004, despite everything, Angela still has a vibrant mind and the will to have a career and a family, but she warned:

It’s so easy when you’re young to become attracted and influenced by people who maybe you think love you or who you think you can have a relationship with. I want to deter people and show them what can happen.

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