24 November, 2008
White Ribbon Day
Family violence is a health issue and its identification and management is part of the role of all health practitioners, says Canterbury District Health Board Child Protection Coordinator Susan Miles.
Women and children who are exposed to violence and abuse are much more likely to access a broad spectrum of health services than those who have not, she said. November 25 is White Ribbon Day - the United Nations International Day for the elimination of violence against women.
This year the Families Commission has distributed more than 500,000 white ribbons around the country to mark the day. In New Zealand most violence by men against women takes place in the home - with an average of 14 women a year killed by their partners or ex-partners. Each year there are over 3,500 convictions recorded against men for assaults on women and one in five women will experience sexual assault or sexual interference at some point in their lives.
Susan Miles says this year the CDHB is broadening its approach to White Ribbon Day by speaking out against violence towards all people. The CDHB is giving staff white ribbons to wear and displaying posters around its hospitals to mark the day. CDHB Mental Health Services staff will be taking part in organised walks during their lunch breaks and carrying large white ribbons to raise the profile of the issue of family violence. A poster competition has been organised and CDHB staff have been invited to enter posters which speak out against violence within families. Families Commissioner Gregory Fortuin says he challenges men to talk openly about family violence and challenge comments or behaviour that is abusive. “Most men are not violent and they can be active and powerful influences on other men.” Challenging someone’s abusive behaviour or attitudes does not need to be “a big deal”. A quiet comment that shows not all men share their attitudes about women and violence can make a difference, he said.
What you can do
• Wear a white ribbon to show your support
• Challenge attitudes and behaviour which condone or tolerate violence
• Encourage others in your organisation, family/whanau, community, street or workplace to wear a white ribbon