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Whakarerekehia! Make the Change – And End Men’s Violence!

MEDIA STATEMENT
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 23 2011

Whakarerekehia! Make the Change – And End Men’s Violence!

The National Network of Stopping Violence, Te Kupenga, is urging all New Zealanders to take a stand against men’s violence.

National manager Brian Gardner say this country will not see a significant drop in child abuse and death from violence until we take the issue of men’s violence seriously.

This Friday November 25 marks the 20th anniversary of the international White Ribbon Day which mobilises action to eliminate violence towards women.

The New Zealand campaign organised by the Families Commission includes the White Ribbon Ride in the North and South Islands, Giant Ribbon Pledge Project, Newspaper Pledge Project, White Ribbon Ambassadors and a White Ribbon Run through the central city streets of Wellington.

Te Kupenga is a network of 42 independent community-based organisations – from Whangarei to Invercargill – working to end violence and abuse in families.

“We welcome the current government’s focus on addressing child abuse but very little will change until we are mature enough as a country to name men’s violence as a critical issue driving violence in families and a priority for all of us – especially men – to address,” says Mr Gardner.

“For too long, domestic violence has been seen as a women’s issue which women have worked tirelessly to address. The reality is that the majority of serous violence and deaths in families is perpetrated by men and, at the end of the day, only men can change their behaviour.”

Mr Gardner, who is chairperson of the White Ribbon organising committee and a White Ribbon Ambassador, says men’s leadership is a critical component of achieving change.

“Sadly men will often listen to other men on issues such as domestic violence when they will dismiss the challenges of women.

“In New Zealand, we have male leadership at the highest levels – from the Prime Minster and the leaders of all the political parties to the Governor-General – who can send out a really strong message that all men need to be part of this change.

“All too often we send confusing messages about the intention to address men’s violence.”

A recent example is the Government’s decision to increase the penalties for breaches of protection orders under the Domestic Violence Act 1995 while at the same time suggesting that current mandatory referrals to men’s stopping violence programmes under the same legislation could be made voluntary in a review of the Family Court.

This issue is covered in-depth by the flagship newsletter of Te Kupenga which has been published in time for White Ribbon Day 2011 and available to view on the organisation’s website, www.nnsvs.org.nz.

“An ‘attend a programme if you feel like it’ approach is one highly unlikely to send a clear message to men about addressing violence,” says Mr Gardner.

“So this Friday November 25, as we mark international White Ribbon Day, let us have an expectation that all men will lead the way. Our approach doesn’t need to be grand – it is as simple as asking ourselves this: ‘When our kids look at how I treat their mum do they see love and respect?’

“If every man took up this challenge, men’s violence to women and children would stop overnight. All men are part of the solution – whakarerekehia! Make a change!”

For more information about Te Kupenga, go to the website www.nnsvs.org.nz or for the latest news on White Ribbon Day – Friday November 25 – go to www.whiteribbon.org.nz.

Ends

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