One thing I’d really like said to the people who work in the advertising industry is to think about the big picture. To be willing to consider the big picture alongside their own aims, to consider the broader impacts their ads have on people, on culture.
For example, 1 in 3 women are victims of violence. That means at least one sixth of their audience are potentially victims of violence. Seeing that violence (especially violence against women but also any violence), treated flippantly, carelessly, can be devastating. Not just offensive. Or even hurtful. But it can actually provoke post-traumatic reactions and symptoms and worst of all, it entrenches and repeats the culture that enabled the vicitmisation of so many of us in the first place.
Violence against women, the objectification of women, the sexualisation of women – all of these things have real world consequences on the lives of real people. Advertising is a cultural product with power. If an ad has the power to sell things, to sell ideas, to change people’s buying patterns, people’s behaviour – then it has very significant power. The advertising industry cannot have it both ways. They cannot make use of their power to make lots of money and then turn around and say that what they do doesn’t really matter, isn’t important.
If they can do what they sell to clients then, what they do has a significant impact on the world. Therefore, it comes with a responsibility. A responsibility to think about the consequences beyond just those that are desired or intended.
The advertising industry has a great opportunity to change the world for the better. To use its potential to not entrench harmful and devastating behaviours, attitudes and norms.
To at least think about that bigger picture – the full consequences of their choices and their creative outputs, the negative and the positive consequences, the intended and the unintended consequences. Of course, their first commitment is to their client but that doesn’t have to rule out a consideration of the bigger picture.
‘Every single player needs to know there are serious, career threatening consequences for assaulting a woman’
Brisbane father of two Anthony Simpson has launched a petition through Change.org calling on the NRL to ban players who engage in violence against women. Every time the petition is signed an email will be sent to the league’s Chief Executive.
Launched less than 24 hours ago, the petition has already attracted almost 5000 signatures.
Please consider signing this petition to the NRL urging them to penalise violence against women by their players.
Sports in this country are amazingly powerful institutions and although not many of us may be NRL fans, through a petition like this we have a real opportunity to show a powerful organisation in Australian society that violence against women is never acceptable.
As ordinary Australians we do not condone or accept such behaviour and we do not want to see our sports players getting away with it. Let’s make that very clear to the NRL.
As the petition clearly shows violence against women is a very serious problem in Australia and until we make it undeniably clear that it is unacceptable behaviour, it will continue.
Our voice in a matter like this could really make a difference. Please sign and circulate to your friends, family and contacts.
“I was trying to cover myself, that’s when he kicked me in the head. I was curled up trying to cover myself” — Taleah Rae Backo, girlfriend of NRL player Robert Lui
It was a horrifying assault. While their six-month-old baby slept in the next room, NRL player Robert Lui dragged his girlfriend Taleah to a mattress by her hair, then headbutted and kicked her repeatedly.
It’s the second time this year that the NRL has failed to take serious action against players guilty of assaulting women. Just weeks ago, another player was found guilty of physically abusing and threatening to kill his 7-month-pregnant girlfriend.
I’m a born and bred Tigers supporter of over thirty years. I love the game, and I want my son to grow up a Wests Tigers fan, but I’m ashamed and sick of the weak response from the NRL to players bashing women. It’s not the culture and behaviour I expect of players who are held up as role models to kids.
I am calling upon the National Rugby League CEO, and the Wests Tigers and Cowboys clubs to implement a one season ban on players convicted of assaulting women. Every single player needs to know there are serious, career threatening consequences for assaulting a woman.
Please sign my petition, and share it with friends and family — it’s time the NRL takes meaningful action against domestic violence.
Why I took part in 16 days of activism against gendered violence against women
By Kate Ravenscroft
“How frequently women are hurt and violated by the people they love. How rarely those criminals are brought to justice. How devastating the consequences of rape and gendered violence are. How effectively and irreparably violence against women destroys a woman’s self-esteem, her freedom and her capacity to live the life she is entitled to.’
Violence against women is an invisible crime. A crime that more often than not goes unrecognised, unreported and unpunished. Most devastatingly, it is going on routinely and unabated.
One in three Australian women will be the victim of violence in their lifetime. I am one of three daughters. I am also the victim of rape. Does that make my sisters safe? Does that mean that I need not stay awake at night worrying that what happened to me might happen to them? Does that mean that I can relax knowing they will live untouched by the tyranny of violence? That they will live instead a life of security and dignity?
If only statistics worked that way. I cannot know, I can never be sure, that my sisters will be safe from violence. I can never be sure that any of the women in my life will live their lives through without being terrorised, traumatised and victimised. None of us can.
Violence against women occurs so frequently in our society that it constitutes the most significant human rights abuse occurring in the world today. With one in three women confronted by violence in their lifetime, the only fitting term for the situation is an epidemic.
None of us are left untouched by this rampant occurrence of criminal behaviour. We all know at least three women, we all know victims of gendered violence. We all know women who are dealing with the devastating consequences of assault, intimidation and brutality, whose lives are constrained and limited by the deliberate infringement of their integrity and their liberty.
Yet, where is the outrage? Where is the condemnation? Where are the action groups and action plans? Where is the public discussion on this catastrophic situation? Where is the determination to confront this criminal behaviour and punish it appropriately? Where are the clear and bold messages that this is unacceptable? That this must change?
This is how the 16 Days of Activism Against Gendered Violence emerged. Developed by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership, the 16 Days begins on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and ended on December 10, International Human Rights Day, dates chosen deliberately “in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.” The campaign set out from the very beginning to ensure that the issue of violence against women was no longer considered as an obscure and marginal issue but as the significant and urgent public health crisis and global human rights abuse that it is.
The 16 Days campaign recognised that a systemic crime required a systemic response. If governments, justice systems and community leaders worldwide weren’t prepared to address this issue with the gravity and urgency it required then a bold, international education campaign was necessary.
16 Days is all about awareness and education. It is about showing people how dire violence against women is. This is not a situation we can ignore and just hope it goes away. We need to be aware how many women are living lives in the face of terrorism and abuse, how rampant the occurrence of gendered violence is and how great the cost to all of us is. In Australia alone, violence against women costs the Australian economy $13.6 billion annually. This is a very significant burden we are choosing to bear and one we can choose to confront, diminish and end, whenever we are ready.
And so 16 Days is also about recognising that our behaviour matters. That violence against women is not inevitable and that we will end this abuse when we choose to confront the attitudes and behaviours that enable this violence to continue. Ending violence against women is something we all need to take part in: we are all implicated in both the current situation and the solution. We can only end violence against women when we tackle the problem as something both personal and communal, both private and public, both local and international.
H 3 I first participated in the 16 Days campaign last year. The same year that I became a victim of rape.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I became a victim of gendered violence that I realised the nature and extent of this crime. Only then did I learn how common sexual assault is. How frequently women are hurt and violated by the people they love. How rarely those criminals are brought to justice. How devastating the consequences of rape and gendered violence are. How effectively and irreparably violence against women destroys a woman’s self-esteem, her freedom and her capacity to live the life she is entitled to.
I had not understood how dire the situation was until I became the victim of it. My ignorance devastates me now for I understand how that very ignorance is part of what allows these crimes to continue. Because we do not see this crime we cannot prevent it. Because we do not understand it, we cannot support victims and aid them to recover. Because we do not recognise or acknowledge it for the very serious abuse it constitutes, we do not avert, let alone discourage, perpetrators from committing their crimes. Instead, we aid and abet them.
Until we grasp that violence against women is an urgent crisis affecting us all, until we give this crisis the attention and resolute determination that it so desperately requires – on both a public and personal level – we will continue to undermine not only individuals but families, communities and societies worldwide. We will continue to disable a vast majority of the global population and force them into half-lives of terror and constraint. We will continue to enable perpetrators to commit their crimes unrestrained, without fear of punishment or consequence.
16 Days is about showing us that the way to end this terrifying situation is about each of us taking responsibility for our part in the solution. It is about showing us that, as individuals and as a community, we can address the attitudes and behaviours, the culture, that allows violence against women to occur so frequently and so readily. In being willing to examine our own attitudes and our own behaviours and then change them to ensure that we are not facilitating violence but rather facilitating security, respect and peace – this is how we will confront gendered violence and prevent it.
That’s what 16 Days means for me. It’s why I take part. It’s what I write about on my blog 16 Impacts of Sexual Assault. It’s why I think the 16 Days of Activism Against Gendered Violence is so important. I don’t want my behaviour to contribute to the occurrence of violence against women any longer. In fact, I am determined to do everything I can to ensure that my behaviour, my attitudes, my culture abhors, criminalises and justly punishes any and all forms of violence against women. I don’t want to live in shame any longer. And shame it is to be part of a world that condones and enables violence and abuse against any of us. Let us live instead in pride and security and dignity. Let us do all we can to end the epidemic of violence against women.
Here are just a few of the determined initiatives undertaken around the world as part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gendered Violence:
● Take Back the Tech, an international campaign to take control of technology to end violence against women.
Kate Ravenscroft – whose important piece on violence against women I published here on the 100th year celebration of International Women’s Day – and her colleague Mel Hughes of Poetry 101 would like MTR blog readers to know about a new publication they are putting together for survivors of sexual assault. It’s such an important project, filling a significant gap. If you are a survivor and would like to be part of it, please get in touch with Kate and Mel.
We would like to invite you to support a publication that we are compiling as a resource for victim/survivors of sexual assault.
The aim of the publication is to provide those affected by sexual assault – both the immediate victim/survivors and those connected to them, whether they be friends and family or support services like the police or legal and medical professionals, but also the wider community (as we believe that the entire community is affected by sexual assault) with a resource that contains the voices and experiences of actual victim/survivors, in their own words, on their own terms.
As victim/survivors ourselves we feel keenly the absence of a genuine, open and safe dialogue around sexual assault in the world about us. We are only too aware of how rare it is to hear the voices of victim/survivors and of how hard it remains to speak openly and honestly about sexual assault.
The focus of the zine is really on surviving – on what it means, how to do it, that it can be done, that it is an act of courage and value etc. We want the zine to be both a practical guide to how to survive assault and a positive valuation of survivors and the task of rebuilding a life in the shadow of sexual assault. Something that people can pick up and feel that it is possible. Something that helps people to understand how extraordinarily resilient and courageous survivors are. We are heroes. I believe that and I believe that when the world recognises this, instead of turning to victim blaming, we’ll be a lot closer to eradicating sexual violence altogether.
We are inviting contributions from anyone who has experienced sexual assault on any perspective of their survival that they wish to discuss. Contributions can take any form and are requested by 31 July 2011.
We hope that the final publication will be an approachable, user-friendly publication that will provide readers with a genuine understanding of what it means to survive sexual assault. We are in discussions with organisations including CASA regarding the printing and distribution of the publication. We aim to distribute it as widely as possible.
Violence against women is a scourge on the planet. When I’m asked what is the greatest human rights violation in the world today, I respond, violence against women. Female genital mutilation, honour killings, dowry deaths, forced marriage, sexual slavery, trafficking to serve the demands of prostitution and pornography, female foeticide and infanticide….the list goes on. Women and girls are ground down, reduced to nothing, in so many parts of the world.
Yet so far this International Women’s Day, I’ve heard a lot about lack of female representation in corporate board rooms (I’m not saying this isn’t important) but little about this barbarity which seems to go unabated.
So I was pleased just now to come across this piece about the global pandemic of sexual violence against women and girls.
It’s written by Kate Ravenscroft from Victoria , a blogger at www.16impacts.wordpress.com and a survivor of sexual assault. She also tells us she’s handy at making crumpets from scratch, likes to take photos and is a sometime specialist in contemporary French cinema. She also understands the global horror of sexual violence, affecting one in five women in the world. Here’s Kate’s piece reprinted with permission.
In honour of the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, I wanted to share this with you:
10 Reasons We All Need to Care About Preventing Sexual Violence
Perhaps you think sexual assault is an individual problem? One that affects the victim, and those close to her and, of course, the police and the Office of Public Prosecutions but, beyond that? Why should anyone else care? Why is it any business of mine if some bad man commits rape? Sure, it’s terrible but that’s not my problem, right?
Wrong. Sexual assault is not an individual problem. It does not concern only those affected, only those victimised and their loved ones. It is not merely the concern of the law enforcement and legal systems. It is an urgent social problem, a global health crisis, and an international pandemic, that affects all of us.
On the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, here are 10 reasons why YOU, too, need to care about preventing sexual violence:
1. We all know someone who has been the victim of sexual violence.
One in five women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.* One in five women, globally – it bears repeating. In fact, it beggars belief. That’s roughly 10% of the global population and yet, that is a conservative estimate.
Statistics can be pretty meaningless, pretty hard to make sense of, but this is one that is so significant it’s hard not to translate into reality. How many families contain at least five women? How many workplaces and friendship groups and clubs? How many times a day do you stand in a room with at least five women? Statistically, every time you gather with at least five women, at least one of those women will have been the victim of sexual assault. Whether or not we are aware of it, we all know a victim of sexual violence.
2. Sexual violence is a global pandemic.
Sexual violence knows no geographic, cultural, religious or socio-economic barriers – it occurs in all cultures, all countries, everywhere. Across the world women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria. In 2002 alone, the UN estimated that 150 million girls under 18 suffered some form of sexual violence. Seventy percent of women will suffer some form of violence, sexual or otherwise, in their lifetime.* Statistics such as these could be reported ad infinitum, so common is sexual violence in our communities. Violence against women is so rampant and pervasive that it is globally the most frequent human rights abuse occurring.
3. Sexual violence is a devastating crime with extensive, long term consequences.
The impacts of sexual assault are almost impossible to quantify or qualify. Not only are they devastating and intensely destructive but they are also personal and unique to each victim. Physical, psychological, emotional, social, sexual, financial, professional – the consequences of sexual violence extend to every aspect of life. Self-esteem and self-worth are often destroyed. Physical and mental health complications arise and can continue throughout the victim’s life. Trust and confidence in society and other people are savaged. The capacity to hold down a job, support oneself and contribute productively to society are all undermined. Quality of life, health and happiness, autonomy and security are all damaged by sexual violence.*
The entire course of a life is derailed and in many ways the task of recovering from sexual violence is the task of rebuilding a life anew. Only it’s not really anew. Rather, the knowledge of what could have been, had violence not intervened, will always be there. At the very least, for the rest of their life, the victim will carry the horrifying knowledge of violence with them. At the very worst, the specific, individual consequences of the crime will continue to burden and determine the course of their life, for the rest of their life.
4. Sexual violence doesn’t just devastate individuals.
It devastates families and communities, too. Around each victim is a network of people who will be affected to varying degrees by the consequences of sexual violence. Supporting someone you know and care about through a traumatic, violent and criminal, experience can be deeply distressing, stressful and costly for family members, friends and others close to the victim. The consequences of providing this support can include physical, psychological, emotional, social and financial costs. These are costs that the supporter, like the victim herself, may have to bear for the rest of their life.
The impacts of violence are insidious and extensive, complex and subtle. Sexual violence savages the victim’s relationships to others and to society. It destroys their trust in people and their confidence in ordinary situations. This is of vital significance to all of us. When distrust and fear permeate our communities and define the way members of our society live amongst each other, we create a lesser community, a lesser society for all of us to live in.
5. Sexual violence is a human rights abuse.
“Inherent dignity”, “equal and inalienable rights”, “freedom from fear”, “the right to security of person” and protection from “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” are all enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If these really were the standards we set for human behaviour, then every incidence of sexual violence, all sexual violence, would be not just a tragedy but a travesty. It would be irrefutably criminal and clearly prosecutable. It is impossible to wholeheartedly believe in the inherent dignity of all human beings and their fundamental and inalienable right to security of person and rape them. Without the inferred right to bodily integrity and bodily autonomy, “security of person” means little. Sexual violence, and violence against women, is rarely framed in human rights terms, but once we take seriously women’s full and equal rights, it can hardly be framed otherwise.
6. Sexual violence is a clear indicator of gender inequality.
The single greatest risk factor for becoming a victim of sexual assault is being a woman.* Violence against women is a systemic, and literally deadly, expression of a fundamental gender inequity at the heart of every human society. Sexual violence, and all violence against women, not only reflects this fundamental inequality but moreover perpetuates it. Truly egalitarian attitudes and beliefs are simply incompatible with sexual violence, with forcing or coercing a sexual partner or with any kind of violent behaviour. What any form of sexual violence against women shows is an essential lack of respect for women. It fails to see that women have full and equal rights and that any sexual activity needs to take those rights into account. To put it bluntly, it refuses women the right to not only choose, accept and initiate sexual activity as they see fit, but equally to refuse any sexual activity at any time, under any conditions, according to their own desires. A culture that doesn’t value a woman’s voice, that does not listen to women, will have trouble respecting a woman’s right to choose when, where, how and with whom she engages in sexual activity. Such a culture perpetrates violence against women at alarming levels.
7. Sexual violence costs all of us dearly.
In 2009, violence against women cost the Australian public an estimated $AUD 13.6 billion. If nothing changes, ie. if things stay as they are now, this is set to rise to $AUD15.6 billion by 2021.* Quite simply this is a phenomenal, and burdensome, waste of money. Recent Australian research has identified that even a modest reduction in the perpetration levels of violence against women could save the Australian economy over $AUD300 million in lost productivity alone. It has to be asked, has anyone pointed this out to Canberra?
8. Sexual violence is the least successfully prosecuted crime.
Not only is sexual violence less likely to be reported than other crimes, but, when it is reported, it is less likely to result in charges being laid, less likely to be prosecuted and less likely to lead to conviction than other crimes.* In fact, overwhelmingly, both the law enforcement and legal systems, in Australia and internationally, are highly ineffectual and unsuccessful in their response to sexual violence. A crime which cannot be successfully prosecuted is, in effect, a ‘no-crime’ crime – a crime which society tacitly condones, a crime with no punishment. The failure to successfully prosecute sexual violence (along with the inability to hear women’s voices and testimony and to respond to it), is yet another way that we fail as a society to protect, and take seriously, women’s human rights.
9. Sexual violence is a form of terrorism.
Sexual violence is undoubtedly the most pervasive form of terrorism in the world today (and has been for a very long time). It is a violent act intended to create fear which deliberately targets civilians. The ideological aim of sexual violence is to create, and perpetuate, women’s vulnerability and therefore their inferiority. The perpetrator enforces his victim’s submission with the aim of not just subjugating this one woman for the duration of the assault but, with the expectation of creating and enforcing gendered roles that the rapist sees as ‘correct’: male dominance and female submission, especially in regards to sexual behaviour.* The aim of sexual assault is to effect permanent change in the victim and to cause lasting psychological damage. What is phenomenal about this is that, in a world that spends so much time, energy and money discussing terrorism and creating counter-terrorist measures, we are still so complicit, and have so resoundingly failed to extricate ourselves, from the everyday, ongoing terrorism that sexual violence continues to perpetrate against women everywhere.
10. We can end sexual violence.
Unlike most traumatic events – disease, natural disasters, accidents – sexual violence is a human behaviour which is completely under our control. We can end sexual violence. That ever increasing body of statistics could start declining today. It is both possible and imminently achievable. All it takes is a commitment to respectful relationships, a decision to refuse violence as a way of getting what you want and a willingness to only engage in sexual activity that is genuinely, whole-heartedly, joyfully (ie. non-coercively) consensual for each and every party involved. All it takes is a decision not to rape. Rape is not accidental, it is not inevitable, it is not justifiable behaviour. So, what are we waiting for? A real commitment to women’s full and equal rights, real education about respectful relationships, real consequences for criminal behaviour – this is what it will take. Let’s end sexual violence, now.
Antoinette Jones – Principal – Mitcham Girls High School
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“Melinda Tankard Reist is at the forefront of helping…educate the public on the link between pornography and violence…” – Di Macleod, Director, Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence
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