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White Ribbon Day – 25 November

White Ribbon Day – 25 November

National launch of events – 20 November

Over the next week many people around New Zealand will be wearing a white ribbon to show they do not tolerate or condone violence against women.

A week of national activities will be launched in Wellington on Monday 20 November.

The White Ribbon campaign is an international movement initiated by men to end violence towards women and the United Nations has adopted 25 November as its International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The campaign encourages men to examine their attitudes and behaviour toward women and challenge the attitudes and behaviour of other men.

Violence against women includes physical abuse but many men do not realise that threatening and controlling behaviour, psychological and sexual abuse are also acts of violence, said Paul Curry, Chief Executive of the Families Commission.

“No violence within families is acceptable. As men, we need to promote respect, equality and safety within our relationships. If we don’t, then we are not teaching our sons that these qualities are vital to strong, healthy relationships, and we are not teaching our daughters that they deserve respect, equality and safety in their relationships with men,” he said.

New Zealand has a high rate of violence towards women. In 2004 there were just over 3,100 convictions recorded against men for assaults on women and a 2001 national victims’ of crime study showed that close to one in five women experienced sexual assault or sexual interference at some point in their lives. Last year police recorded 63,000 incidents involving family violence.

This year dozens of government, social service and voluntary agencies as well as UNIFEM (the UN Development Fund for Women) are working together to raise awareness of White Ribbon Day and the week leading up to it.

More than 200,000 individual white ribbons (26 kilometres of ribbon) will be distributed free throughout the country by organisations concerned about family and sexual violence. Amnesty International, YWCA and other agencies will also be focusing on violence against women used as a tool of war.

More information and a list of some of the events are available on www.whiteribbon.org.nz

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