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A Minimum Of 17 Years For One Life. How Can We Make This Better?

Today the unnamed man found guilty of murdering Grace Millane was sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of 17.

“One person has been locked away but are New Zealand women any safer?” asks White Ribbon Manager Rob McCann.

“We certainly feel better about ourselves, but in locking away one person we have not addressed the fact that one in three women experience violence from a partner or ex-partner in their lifetime. We have not addressed the unhealthy attitudes towards women that are nurtured by pornography, or the clichéd masculinity that is created when we tell our young men that ‘boys don’t cry’ or to ‘harden up’.”

“We have not addressed the victim blaming which the defence tried to utilise and that those same myths were repeated by sections of our communities.”

White Ribbon Ambassador Mark Longley agrees. “It is great that justice has been done today and the man who murdered Grace will spend a long time behind bars.

“What is a shame though is that in the 12 months after Grace's murder we saw a higher than average number of women in New Zealand die at the hands of their partner.

The behaviour displayed by the man who killed Grace shocked me. Descriptions of how he smuggled her body out of the hotel, went on a date and he watched pornography hours after killing her were appalling.

I am sure the traits of an abusive personality would have been seen by friends and colleagues, but were likely never challenged.

The death of Grace and the women after her must not be in vain, violence against women, in any form, is wrong and it is up to us men to spread that message.

As men our voice can be incredibly powerful, whether that is just checking in on a mate and asking if he is ok, or uniting to speak out against violence towards women, says Mr Longley.

White Ribbon is adamant that we must learn from the Grace Millane murder.

“If we want to address the violence that killed Grace, we have to look at the causes,” says Mr McCann. We must examine and undermine the attitudes and behaviours that enable the kind of toxic masculinity that drove the killer, and at the same time support healthy masculinity and respectful relationships (which are a protection against violence).

“We see Healthy Masculinity as rejecting unhelpful stereotypes and #unspoken rules about what it is to be a boy or man and replacing those with qualities such as kindness, being empathetic and finding peaceful resolutions to problems.

“Healthy masculinity is about boys and men being confident in who they are, without feeling pressure to be a certain type of boy/man.

“Boys and men can still be ‘brave’, ‘have muscles’, assertive, tough, love rugby, enjoy time with other men and boys, enjoy a ‘pint’ with the lads. But boys and men should also be free to express sad emotions, enjoy cooking, dancing, gardening and anything else that does not fit into rigid gender stereotypes.

“Healthy masculinity is treating everyone with respect and having Respectful Relationships (which always include consent).

“This is what we much teach our boys to ensure they do not buy into the kind of toxic behaviour that encourages men to use violence and disrespect women.

“And when men encounter men that are violent or hold sexist views, they must be encouraged to stand up and call out the bad behaviour.

“These actions will help reduce violence by undermining the attitudes that support violence and by promoting the healthy masculinity that supports Respectful Relationships.”

For more information about how to support Healthy Masculinity go to www.whiteribbon.org.nz

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