Taking a stand against violence
In the last few weeks we have been shocked and appalled to hear media reports of terrifying attacks on elderly women and the existence of a group designed to shame and humiliate teenage girls.
These stories have prompted outrage across New Zealand among communities, businesses and politicians calling for action, and rightly so. They are the actions of cowards, inflicting harm and misery upon some of our most vulnerable citizens.
November is White Ribbon Month, a campaign against violence towards women, and it could not have come at a more appropriate time. The month-long campaign is an opportunity to shed some light on an often taboo subject. It is about our communities taking a collective stand and speaking out against abuse towards women.
Sadly, violence against women, in particular domestic violence, is something which occurs regularly in all parts of New Zealand.
Every week Rotorua police receive an average of 47 reports of family violence. This frightening occurrence of violence in the home is unacceptable and it's time we collectively take a stand to say enough is enough.
We need to send a message to the men in our community who are harming their wives and partners - violence against women is not okay.
Protecting people in our communities is not just about keeping our streets safe - it is also about ensuring those who live here are not being subjected to harm and misery behind closed doors.
To some it may seem easier to turn a blind eye and pretend that everything will be okay; for others, concern about their own safety might stop them from speaking out or seeking help for a neighbour or loved one.
The White Ribbon campaign is about giving those people a voice. It is about encouraging people to advocate against violence towards women all year round. Importantly, it’s about setting a good example for young people and ensuring they know that the abuse of women, or any person, is not okay.
Everybody deserves to live free and safe from abuse, including physical and psychological abuse.
If you or someone you know is being abused, I urge you to contact the Rotorua police on (07) 349 9400 (this can be done anonymously).
Alternatively, call the 24-hour Women's Refuge Crisis Line on 0800 REFUGE. For more information about where and how to get help go to www.areyouok.org.nz or call 0800 456 450.
- Published in the Rotorua Weekender on Friday 15th November, 2013.