editors letterIT’S not a new problem.
Violence against women has been around for a long time.
But many more people drew a line in the sand, almost exactly two years ago today, when 29 year-old Jill Meagher was raped and killed on her way home from a pub in Brunswick.
It wasn’t stopped by that incident as it should have been.
In fact the reported incidence of family violence, principally by men against their partners, here in our own community of South Gippsland, has doubled in the past four years.
Hopefully that simply means that fewer women are prepared to put up with it and more are coming forward.
But whatever the case, it’s a situation that is totally unacceptable.
And it’s not just the extreme end of the problem that’s at issue. It comes down to respect and gender equality at all levels.
All of us, as a community, need to be saying enough is enough.
A few months ago, the region had a visit from anti-violence against women campaigner Phil Cleary, whose sister Vicki was killed by her ex-partner in 1987.
He championed the cause by urging local clubs and groups to demonstrate their respect for women and support for gender equality by opening up all roles, responsibilities and events to women on equal terms with men.
And we’ve seen the Alberton Football Netball League in particular embrace those ideals at all of its major functions this year. Good on them.
He said action on family violence starts with respect and he said that sporting and social clubs have the responsibility to play a leadership role in changing attitudes to women.
He’s right.
Like the scourge that is the drug ice and our successful but on-going challenge to stop drink-driving; violence against woman is a problem for the whole community to solve and we’re ready to do it.
From the State Government and the Police Commissioner Ken Lay, right down to the grass roots at local football-netball and bowls club level, people are being urged to call the lack of respect for women for what it is – violence against women.
We’re ready to take it to the next level now to the point where poor attitudes to women, let alone actual occasions of violence, are absolutely frowned by all.
The United Nations defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
It’s an incredibly insidious problem that requires commitment at all levels but we can all start by questioning our own attitudes and responses.