Page 917 - Week 03 - Thursday, 30 March 2006

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I think that Mr Gentleman must have been at the main Woolworths shopping complex at Erindale. I am sure that if he had been at Gartside Street, where I was picking up 86 very willing signatures to a petition, he would have heard about the problems that shopkeepers are having down there. Let me just clarify the record. I was down there on Saturday morning for a couple of hours from half past 10 and he certainly was not there. I am assuming that he must have been over at the main Erindale shops.

Amnesty International photographic exhibition

Violence against women

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (6.14): I rise tonight to highlight Amnesty International’s Living under constant threat photographic exhibition that finished recently at the Tuggeranong Arts Centre. Exhibited from 8 to 27 March, the exhibition featured the work of seven photographers from seven countries, documenting the lives of woman who live under constant threat from their families, their societies and their governments.

The exhibition was held to mark International Women’s Day, and the images tell the stories of women from all over the world. One image told the story of Darfur, where Sudanese women and girls are being raped, abducted and forced into sexual slavery by the Janjawid militia, with the complicity of the official army. To flee violence, women take shelter at the Bredjing refugee camps set up in Chad.

Another image shows the “IN3”, a female prison camp in Dwoebratski, Russia. The camp was built in 1932 by Stalin. The camp now holds 1,300 prisoners, of which 100 are HIV infected. There is barely any medication available. In the past year, five women have died of AIDS.

These often confronting but beautiful photographs show the plight of women across the world and identify Amnesty International’s commitment to eradicating violence against women. Each year, the lives of millions of women are affected by beatings, rape, abduction, torture, intimidation, humiliation and discrimination. The perpetrators can be strangers, soldiers or officials, colleagues or employers, partners, relatives or friends.

Violence against women cuts across the boundaries of wealth, race and culture. It is not confined to particular political or economic systems, but pervades every society in the world. As in the rest of the world, Australian women across the country, social groups, cultures, ages and professions are affected by violence. Current Australian statistics reveal that one in three women have experienced violence while in intimate relationships.

Amnesty International is working hard to rectify this situation, and in March 2004 it launched a six-year campaign to stop violence against women. The campaign aims to bolster the efforts of women’s rights movements across the world and emphasises the responsibility of the state, the community and the individual to take action to end violence against women.

Mr Speaker, I think it is important to note that currently 54 countries still have laws that actively discriminate against women, 79 countries have no laws against domestic

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