Reject violence against women, men urged

The men of Australia have been issued with a challenge – never to commit or excuse violence against women.

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Politicians, sportsmen, businessmen, brothers, partners and fathers gathered under gloomy skies in Sydney’s east for a mass vow led by NSW’s top police officer on White Ribbon Day.

About 150 people braved wet weather on a walk from Randwick to Coogee, including federal minister Peter Garrett, NRL boss David Gallop and former sports stars Rhys Wesser, Mike Whitney and Gary Ella.

“This oath challenges all men to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women,” NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione told the crowd, many of whom had white ribbons pinned to their chests.

“It challenges us to act more respectfully towards women and (to be aware) how our behaviour as men influences the behaviours of our sons.”

Mr Scipione said statistics on violence against women remained disturbing, with one in three homicides related to domestic disputes.

“Violence against women is an insidious crime that affects us all,” he said.

“These women are our mothers, our sisters, our wives, our girlfriends, our work colleagues and our friends.

“Men, we need to make sure we set the right example.”

More than 200 events were held across Australia on Friday to mark the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

White Ribbon Day began in Australia in 2003 and is the country’s only national male-led violence prevention campaign.

Mr Gallop told the crowd the NRL was committed to helping stamp out violence against women.

“From the Kangaroos wearing white ribbons last Sunday in their winning Four Nations final in the UK right down to our junior ranks and grassroots clubs, rugby league is committed to using our profile to raise awareness and educate people about the important cause,” he said.

Daniel Isidro, a year 11 student from Randwick Boys High School, was just as strident.

“Everyone has a mum, and no mum should be the target of violence,” he told AAP.

In a report released on Friday, White Ribbon urged men to be bold in reducing violence in their lives.

The report, Men Speak Up: A toolkit For Action In Men’s Daily Lives, calls on men to take steps to behave non-violently themselves, stop violence between other men and women, and take a stand in the wider community.

But the first step, the report advises, is for men to look closely at their own behaviour.

“Men must start by putting their own house in order,” states the report, authored by White Ribbon ambassador Dr Michael Flood.

“Take responsibility for violent behaviour and attitudes and strive to build non-violent and respectful relations with the women and girls… in your life.

“Look critically at your own social and sexual relations with women, rather than assuming that violence is a problem simply of other men.”

More than 200 events were held across Australia on Friday to mark the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.