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We all have a role to play in ending violence

Human Rights Commission

24 November 2005

We all have a role to play in ending violence

Everyone has a responsibility to act to end violence in the community where they can, the Human Rights Commission said today.

The call comes in the lead-up to the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is marked on Friday 25 November. It is known as White Ribbon Day - the largest effort by men across the world, working in partnership with women, to end violence against women.

"The aim of the day is to focus attention on an issue that continues to affect many women and children in this country," said Human Rights Commissioner Joy Liddicoat.

"Peace-building begins at home where people should feel safest and where violence and abuse of any form should not be tolerated. Yet last year Police fielded more than 45,000 family violence emergency calls."

"As neighbours, colleagues and friends we cannot turn our heads from violence when we know it's happening and pretend that it isn't or that it is in some way less deplorable than other crime."

The right to be safe from violence was viewed by people as the second most important right after the right to health in research conducted as part of the development of the New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights in 2003.

This right is embodied as the right to security of the person in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was signed in 1948.

"Violence against women and children is a violation of fundamental human rights. Over 50,000 white ribbons have been distributed around New Zealand - that's one for every call about family violence made to emergency services in the last year. It's vital than men and women continue to work in collaboration to halt violence and live with mutual respect and compassion for each other. This goal is at the heart of White Ribbon Day," Ms Liddicoat said.

"It's also important that we support the work of the Police and the Women's Refuges who play such important roles in dealing with the issue of family violence and its impact."

A culture of violence can also exist where attitudes that seem to endorse violence are not challenged. This is why the Human Rights Commission is supporting calls from the Families Commission to encourage men to speak out against attitudes that condone or tolerate violence.

"It's all of our responsibility to challenge attitudes and behaviour that condone violence and abuse," said Ms Liddicoat.

ENDS

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