Today I am going to march in Hobart’s streets to demand a world free of violence against women and children.
There is nothing more important to me, than being able to live in this beautiful world, free of violence.
But my focus is on women and children.
Because I am a woman. I know what it feels like to fear sexual violence and I don’t want any woman to limit her life because of that fear.
Because children are the most vulnerable group in our community and we are all responsible for protecting them.
And because the overwhelming majority of violence in our world is perpetrated on women and children.
Today I will be asking men to take responsibility for ending this violence.
Not because you are all violent. You are not.
Not because you are not victims. Too many of you are.
But because men as a group, enjoy the lionshare of power in society and this comes from, is realised by, the fear of sexual violence. The fear of rape is so inherent and fundamentally limiting, it is the greatest agent of social control of women. And the vast majority of violence in our world is perpetrated by men on women and children.
And most importantly, because you can help be the change we need to end violence.
So you can tell me about the woman your mate knows who beat her husband or the women who abuse their children or the lesbians that are violent to their girlfriends. No doubt. But it’s not systemic and it doesn’t limit men as a group.
You can tell me you’re not violent. I know it.
You can get defensive and become immobilised by guilt. It’s not helping.
Maybe you remember a time when you did something you feel ashamed of and you’re afraid of it or yourself. Then be proud you recognise it was not okay and decide to live differently now.
There are a whole lot of men who want the world to be a safe place.
In men’s own words, the reason you should care about ending sexual violence is because:
· men are victims too
· sexual violence confines men
· men know survivors
· men can stop sexual violence.
How can you stop sexual violence?
Take a leaf out of the book of the White Ribbon Campaign:
· Make a commitment – to yourself – publicly – as part of the campaign – whatever works for you – never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.
· Lead by example.
· Challenge sexist behaviour and encourage perpetrators to get help.
· Break the silence – talk about it, write about it, post about it, and challenge it.
· Continue to be a place of safety and demonstrate respect.