Where was Prime Minister Abbott’s White Ribbon?

Earlier this year, I wrote the following post:

“Today, May 7th, is National Domestic Violence Remembrance Day. A day to remember those who have died, and the ones left behind, due to domestic and family violence.

A day to remember those that we ignored, that we failed.

Now, it’s inevitable that someone out there will respond saying that we didn’t simply ignore these deaths. And on that, I call bullshit. Sure, we dedicated several column inches in daily newspapers, and segments on the nightly news to those that lost their lives. And then, when all the hand-wringing and discussions on how awful it was, we forgot. We moved on with our lives, without taking any action, until news of the next death broke. Then it became more collective hand-wringing, more wondering about why it had happened once more. And again, we moved on.

From each of these deaths that were reported in the news, there will be another that the media didn’t pick up on. For each of these deaths, countless more women and children will still be living in terror and danger. For each of these deaths that were reported from the beginning of this year, we made our comments about how awful it was, and we moved on: 

– Therese Brown, 52 years old. Died 3 January 2014.

– Victoria Comrie Cullen, 39 years old. Died 22 January 2014.

– Luke Batty, 11 years old. Died 12 February 2014.

– Margaret Tannous, 47 years old. Died 17 February 2014.

– Baby girl (name unknown), 11 months old. Died 2 April 2014.

– Fiona Warzywoda, 33 years old. Died 16 April 2014.

– Savannah, 4 years old, and Indianna, 3 years old. Died 20 April 2014.

– Woman (name unknown), 47 years old. Died 30 April 2014.

 

And these are just the tip of the iceberg, the deaths that have occurred and been reported on in the last five months.

Domestic and family violence is a national emergency. And a national disgrace. We need to stop the silence, the quick mention on the daily news, the forgetting. We need real, tangible action. We need political will. And for that, we need a leader.”

Today, just over six months later, and on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (or, White Ribbon Day), I can sadly add over sixty more names to the list of those who have died as a result of men’s violence against women and children. Over sixty more people that we, as a society, have collectively failed.

Today, on White Ribbon Day, I watched as the Australian Prime Minister – and self-appointment Minister for Women – walked into question time at Parliament House, White Ribbon-less. While almost other member of parliament was clearly displaying their White Ribbon (the global symbol of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), the Minister for Women, rather conspicuously, was not.

Prime Minister Abbott enters question time on White Ribbon Day - sans White Ribbon. (Source: The Guardian)

Prime Minister Abbott enters question time on White Ribbon Day – sans White Ribbon.
(Source: The Guardian)

At a White Ribbon Day breakfast yesterday, Prime Minister Abbott said “domestic violence has no friends anywhere. It’s just wrong, it’s never justified, it’s never excused”.

But the Prime Minister is wrong. The findings from the 2013 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (NCAS) suggest that men’s violence against women in Australia is excused. And people do find ways to justify it.

I have written before about the PM’s lack of action on men’s violence against women, and I will likely do so again. I will do it not because I wish to continually attack one man, but because this is a man who did appoint himself as the Minister for Women. A man who leads a government that continues to perpetuate sexism and inequality – two things that we know contribute greatly to men’s violence against women.

When Prime Minister Abbott speaks at a White Ribbon Day breakfast he is preaching to the choir. And he’s doing it in a room of media representatives who will report his words.

When Minister for Women Abbott walks into Parliament, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, without wearing the global symbol of that day that almost all of his political colleagues were, his actions speak louder than any of his previously spoken words.

 

If you, or someone you know, is experience domestic violence you can get 24/7 help by contacting 1800Respect via their website or on 1800 737 732. 

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