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Violence against women a human rights issue

Human Rights Commission
Media Release
24 November 2006

Violence against women a human rights issue

Violence against women is a violation of fundamental human rights, Human Rights Commissioner Joy Liddicoat said today in the lead-up to White Ribbon Day tomorrow.

White Ribbon Day is the international day when white ribbons are worn to show that men’s violence towards women is not tolerated or condoned.

“All forms of violence are unacceptable. White Ribbon Day and related events give us the opportunity to highlight the specific issue of violence against women”, Ms Liddicoat said today. “Discrimination is not only a major cause of violence against women but such violence is itself a form of discrimination.”

“Violence against women in New Zealand takes many forms including rape, sexual assault, serious assaults, kidnapping, murder, and domestic violence. Sadly, the number of women making emergency calls to the Police in the last year would have filled to overflowing the proposed Auckland stadium.”

“The United Nations, of which New Zealand is an active member, has recognised that violence against women is a human rights issue. States have duties to protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of women and we all have a role to play. White Ribbon Day provides just one opportunity to do so.”

The campaign was started by a group of men in Canada in 1991 in response to the killing of 14 female students at Montreal University. Since 1999 the UN has marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (known as White Ribbon Day) on 25 November.

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

“I am delighted with the overwhelmingly positive community response to White Ribbon Day. I believe this shows the majority of New Zealanders want to help stop violence against women and to talk about it openly and honestly. I also want to thank the men who had the courage and foresight to create such a simple and positive message that people around the world are sharing.”

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.
* Organise a local event to speak out against men’s violence towards women.
* Spread the word about the White Ribbon campaign and its aims.
* Support men who are caring and respectful towards women.

For further information about White Ribbon Day and human rights, go to: www.hrc.co.nz/whiteribbon

A calendar of White Ribbon events around the country can be found at: www.whiteribbon.org.nz

ENDS

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