The facets of Australian fascism: the Abbott Government experiment (Part 27) – By Dr George Venturini

By Dr George Venturini*

Testing the thesis . . . Rampant sexism (continued)

Violence against women remains one of the major social problems in Australia.

As Jennifer Ellem noted, “[the] rise of domestic violence … in Australia over the past decade is staggering especially when [one] consider[s] the fact that the most common cause of death or injury for women under the age of 45 is domestic violence. [In 2015] alone 79 women were killed by their partners and so far [in February 2016] 4 women have been killed for the same reason. Yet funding for this atrocity is set at $ 25 million a year up until 2017 where it will be reassessed with the view to reduction as for some strange reason they believe they will be able to reduce domestic violence by providing less support.” (J. Ellem, ‘The war on feminism and the normalisation of misogyny in Australia‘).

White Ribbon is the country’s only national – and male-led – campaign to end men’s violence against women. The campaign works through primary prevention initiatives involving awareness raising and education, and programmes with youth, schools, workplaces and across the broader community. Globally, White Ribbon is the world’s largest movement to end men’s violence against women. Originating in Canada in 1991, White Ribbon is now active in more than 60 countries.

In 2003 White Ribbon was brought to Australia through the United Nations Development Fund for Women – UNIFEM, now UN Women.

White Ribbon Australia observes the International Day of the Elimination of Violence against Women, also known as ‘White Ribbon Day’, annually on 25 November. ‘White Ribbon Day’ signals the start of the 16 Days of Activism to Stop Violence against Women, which ends on ‘Human Rights Day’ – 10 December.

However the campaign runs all year and is evident across the community through, for example, advertising and marketing campaigns such as Uncover Secrets, social media, community events and ‘White Ribbon Night’ in July.

Domestic violence is a widespread though often hidden problem across Australia. It occurs in all parts of society, regardless of geographic location, socio-economic status, age, cultural and ethnic background, or religious belief, and its often devastating effects — psychological, social and economic, short-term and long-term – rebound on families, children, and the community as a whole.

The words ‘domestic violence’ are most commonly applied to violence by a man to his wife, female sexual partner or ex-partner. However, ‘domestic violence’ is used also to refer to violence between same-sex partners, among family members – including siblings and parent-child violence either way, and by women against male partners. Domestic violence – sometimes called ‘family violence’ – can take many different forms including intimidation, coercion or isolation, emotional, physical, sexual, financial and spiritual abuse.

Australian police and court crime data indicate that women constitute a significant proportion of reported victims of intimate partner violence, while men make up a significant proportion of reported abusers. These data tend to focus on physical and sexual violence. Australian population survey data similarly show that women are more likely than men to be victims of physical, sexual and other forms of violence by a partner.

Domestic violence is generally understood as gendered violence, and is an abuse of power within a relationship – heterosexual or homosexual – or after separation. In the large majority of cases the offender is male and the victim is female.

More than two decades of international research definitively shows that infants, children and adolescents experience serious negative psychological, emotional, social and developmental impacts to their well-being from the traumatic ongoing experiences of domestic violence.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities prefer the term ‘family violence’, in which case ‘family’ covers a diverse range of ties of mutual obligation and support, and perpetrators and victims of family violence can include, for example, aunts, uncles, cousins and children of previous relationships. (‘White Ribbon – Australia’s campaign to prevent men’s violence against women’).

The Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety Limited – ANROWS, in collaboration with Our Watch –  formerly the Foundation to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children, has developed infographics summarising key statistics on women’s experiences of domestic and family violence and sexual assault.

The information is drawn largely from the 2012 Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey. It shows that 1 in 3 women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15, while 1 in 5 have experienced sexual violence. The perpetrators of violence against women and violence against men are overwhelmingly men.

Research from the 2012 Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey and Australian Institute of Criminology shows that both men and women in Australia experience substantial levels of violence.

Domestic and sexual violence is overwhelmingly committed by men against women.

As at mid-2014 the following were the key statistics on violence against women and men (since the age of 15):

1 in 5 Australian women had experienced sexual violence.

1 in 6 Australian women had experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner.

1 in 4 Australian women had experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner.

1 in 3 Australian women had experienced physical violence.

1 in 22 Australian men had experienced sexual violence.

1 in 19 Australian men had experienced physical or sexual  violence from a current or former partner.

1 in 7 Australian men had experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner.

1 in 2 Australian men had experienced physical violence.

It is more likely for a person to experience violence from a male rather than a female perpetrator.

Over 3 times as many people experienced violence from a male.

The A.B.S. Personal Safety Survey shows that both men and women in Australia experience substantial levels of violence. Australian women are most likely to experience physical and sexual violence in their home, at the hands of a male current or ex-partner.

36 per cent of women had experienced physical or sexual violence from someone they knew.

15 per cent of women had experienced physical or sexual violence from an ex-partner – the most likely type of known perpetrator for a female victim.

62 per cent of the women had experienced physical assault by a male perpetrator most recently in their home.

Australian women are most likely to experience physical and sexual violence in their home, at the hands of a male current or ex-partner. Of women who had experienced violence from an ex-partner:

73 per cent had experienced more than one incident of violence.

61 per cent had children in their care when the violence occurred, including 48 per cent who stated the children had seen and heard the violence.

58 per cent had never contacted the police.

24 per cent had never sought advice or support.

15 per cent of Australian women are more likely to be sexually assaulted by a person they know than a stranger. Young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault.

Of all Australian women, 15 per cent had been sexually assaulted by a person they knew, since the age of 15.

3.8 per cent had been sexually assaulted by a stranger.

Tomorrow: Testing the thesis . . . Rampant sexism (continued)

GeorgeVenturini* In memory of my friends, Professor Bertram Gross and Justice Lionel Murphy.

Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some sixty years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. In 1975 he left a law chair in Chicago to join the Trade Practices Commission in Canberra. He may be reached at George.Venturini@bigpond.com.au.

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