November 25th, 2016
On the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) would like to pay tribute to all the organisations in Aotearoa, New Zealand working on the frontline to prevent and support those subject to domestic and family violence.
Groups like the Women’s Refuge, Shine, Rape Crisis, Shakti NZ, the Sophie Elliot foundation, the Family Clearinghouse, Are You OK? and the New Zealand Police – to name just a few – work tirelessly to prevent as well as serve and protect the victims of domestic and family violence. They provide vital services like 24/7 crisis lines, advocacy, support, refuge, emergency housing, legal and financial aid, education, training and outreach.
Business, too, is beginning to play its part, with companies like The Warehouse offering extra paid leave to staff affected by domestic violence. More will no doubt follow suit.
This year, great strides have been made to reduce violence against women. These include an overhaul of New Zealand’s family violence laws and the criminalisation of forced marriage. New Zealand Police are also trialling the use of smartphones in recording victim statements immediately after a domestic violence incident, making the process of delivering a victim statement less traumatic.
These hard working organisations, and considered initiatives are absolutely vital in addressing the issue of violence against women. New Zealand’s rate of domestic and family violence remains unacceptably high, with statistics showing one in three Kiwi women will experience an abusive or violent relationship. Some of the most vulnerable groups in society – sole mothers, Maori women, women living in poverty and unemployed women are at the highest risk of intimate partner violence. This has a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities, with ramifications that can span generations.
In addition to advocating for victims ensuring they have the support, refuge and protection they need, NCWNZ believes that the nation should look to tackle the root cause of the violence – inequality between men and women. Attitudes towards gender, dismantling gender inequality which underpins violence against women and girls and how best to engage men and boys in prevention needs to be considered. An intersectional approach to the issue; considering other sources and disadvantage – such as class and race – which compound gender disadvantage is required.
NCWNZ calls on leaders from the business, media, advertising, government and not-for-profit sectors to come together to instigate a giant shift in New Zealand culture that positions women and girls, not as lesser but as equal citizens. The time is now.
CE, National Council of Women of NZ