Page 4439 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 22 November 2005
wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace.
The impact of this violence on our community is immense. The impact of this violence on individual lives is unimaginable. Violence costs women their psychological and physical wellbeing for large parts of their lives. Further, this violence maintains the gender inequalities that prevent women from reaching their potential and participating fully and freely in our community.
We are often confronted by violence against women on a global scale. But, unfortunately, we do not need to look further than our own community to be reminded of its existence. Studies released by the commonwealth Office for the Status of Women estimate that in 2002-03 the total number of Australian victims of domestic violence may have been in the order of 408,100, of which 87 per cent were women, with 98 per cent of the perpetrators male. Furthermore, we know that these figures, unfortunately, do not paint the full picture. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has estimated that less than 20 per cent of violence against women is reported to police. This is apparent in the records here in the ACT. In 2003 in the ACT there were 844 recorded assaults on women and 113 recorded sexual assaults on women. As we have just mentioned, these figures only relate to recorded figures; they do not take into account the figures of women that do not realise what abuse refers to.
Abuse can take on several forms. There is, of course, physical abuse—this is the most noticeable—but what about psychological abuse? This is the hardest of all to both determine and to take figures on, as a lot of women have had to deal with this their whole lives and are unsure of the process by which to find help or accredit this form of abuse. Studies show us that many women in the ACT feel unsafe in public, which is hard to come to grips with. But the studies that really made me sit up and take note were the number of women that feel unsafe in their own homes, particularly at night.
So, if violence against women is so pervasive, what can we do to stop it? First and foremost, we need to acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of violence against women is inflicted by men. In helping to make other men acknowledge the fact that violence against women is not acceptable, I have been made an ambassador for White Ribbon Day. This involves me working with such organisations as UNIFEM, the YWCA and the Australian Baha’i community, as well as concerned members of the community, to bring to the forefront the message that men need to take a stand to stop violence against women. I have relished my role as ambassador, and I have engaged other male friends and former colleagues to become involved in the recognition of the elimination of violence against women. These include three times Australian rally champion Neal Bates. In that theme I will be portraying a large white ribbon on our rally car this weekend in the National Capital Rally in Canberra.
Not all men perpetrate violence, but far too many do. Just as women from all walks of life are subjected to violence, men from all countries, all races, all religions and all socioeconomic groups perpetrate violence against women. We live in a climate where some men use violence to assert power, privilege and control. Men often learn violence as young boys and grow up to see it as the best means to solve differences. Men often use violence to express masculinity in their relationships. At present we have unbroken cycles of violence that affect generation after generation. Children see and learn violence