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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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