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Archive for April, 2018

Letter: Stopping dowry related abuse and violence

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is in support of the movement to make dowry abuse a global and United Nations’ issue in order to effectively prevent dowry related violence and abuse of women from immigrant communities.

White Ribbon Australia supports the advocacy work of Dr Manjula O’Connor, who together with like-minded individuals and organisations, is working to raise awareness of the issue of Dowry abuse internationally and establish legal deterrents to its practice.

Dr O’Connor is passionate about gender equality, domestic violence awareness and victim support both locally and abroad. Her advocacy to end men’s violence against women occurs across the breadth of her spheres of influence and is backed by sound research, deep professional knowledge and cultural understanding.

Dr Manjula O’Connor, is the Founding Director of Australasian Centre for Human Rights and Health and a White Ribbon Australia Advocate.

White Ribbon Australia strongly condemns any form of violence against women and works to change the attitudes and behaviours associated with male privilege and power that result in this violence. We acknowledge and identify that Dowry is a cultural practice that has its genesis in gender inequality and is the result of male privilege and men’s violence against women. Dowry, as an ancient cultural practice originated from India, where parents gifted their daughter jewellery and/or cash at her wedding. It began at a time when women were not financially independent. Some interpretations suggest that Dowry was payment to the daughter in lieu of inheritance. In modern India, the inheritance is equally divided between sons and daughters and the Dowry Prohibition Act was passed in 1961. This should have eradicated this practice, however, the practice of dowry has now spread across the world. When a woman marries a man living abroad, her husband can command a premium Dowry. This financial abuse, demanding more and ongoing dowry payments, can escalate to physical, sexual, emotional, psychological abuse, social isolation, sometimes leading to the bride’s death.

Dr O’Connor has mobilized the Victorian Government, presenting evidence of dowry abuse to the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence (2016). Her advocacy resulted in the Royal Commission Recommendation 156 that states:  “The Victorian Government amend section 6 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) to expand the statutory examples of family violence to include forced marriage and dowry related abuse (within 12 months).”

White Ribbon Australia supports Dr O’Connor’s advocacy to mobilise other Australian State and Territory Governments to put in place wider reaching legal deterrents to this practice. We also endorse this action in the global context.

This work aligns with the aim of the White Ribbon social change movement to prevent men’s violence against women. Core to the movement’s work is advocacy and programs working to change attitudes, behaviours and practices that have become normalised and that drive violence and abuse.

We urge your support of the establishment of global deterrents to Dowry practice.

Yours sincerely

Libby Davies
CEO

White Ribbon Australia

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White Ribbon Australia’s Breaking the Silence Schools program rolled out to record number of schools

The largest ever number of primary and secondary schools, a total of 115, have just completed White Ribbon Australia’s Breaking the Silence respectful relationships program.

The award-winning professional development program is a course adapted for primary and secondary schools which provides teachers with foundational knowledge, tools and strategies to ensure cultures of respect and gender equality in schools and to work with the next generation to stop men’s violence against women before it starts.

White Ribbon Australia, CEO, Libby Davies said: “We work to examine the root causes of gender-based violence, challenge behaviours, and create a cultural shift that leads us to a future without men’s violence against women.”
The program uses a mix of face-to-face workshops, eLearning and ongoing mentoring and support to enable schools to embed respectful relationships across curriculum, policies, procedures and school culture.

Amber Hitchcock of Lakemba Public School in NSW said the school saw it as an opportunity to lead a culture shift in their own community.

“We developed a K-6 program for all teachers to use in their classrooms. We also had a range of activities incorporated, including high school partnerships with our Stage 3 students working with two local high schools on White Ribbon workshops,” she said.

“We have witnessed a difference in the students’ attitude towards gender stereotypes. There is no longer the need to play boys vs girls games as the students are aware that everyone is equal. The students have also shifted the language they are using and are more conscious of the way they speak to others.”

Gai Beecher, Principal of Amaroo School in ACT, agrees that Breaking the Silence gave them a powerful platform to address negative gendered language and power imbalance in relationships with our students and staff.

“It has been great to see students and staff develop their awareness of some of the negative impacts of gender stereotypes and how this can influence our attitudes and beliefs. I believe that continued work, started through this initiative will support the school in addressing barriers for girls and boys in their social and educational lives. It will also provide us with opportunities to work through challenges together as a school community and allow our students to be respectful, confident and successful now and in the future,” Ms Beecher said.

Breaking the Silence, has reached more than 314,000 students and 23,800 teachers in over 560 schools, since the program began in 2009. It supports State and Federal education policies around healthy relationships, social and emotional well-being, and primary prevention of violence in school settings.

Breaking the Silence is provided to schools free-of-charge through White Ribbon Australia’s donors, including Myer, Harcourts, Suzanne Grae, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and other individual supporters.

White Ribbon Australia has opened registrations and are now accepting Expressions of Interest for the 2018 Breaking the Silence program.

-Ends-

More information: https://www.whiteribbon.org.au/breaking-silence-program/

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