Violence a major issue on International Women’s Day

Violence a major issue on International Women’s Day

Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, has said that International Women’s Day is an opportunity for all people to stop and reflect on the fact that every country in the world, including Australia, tolerates violence against women.

“I think we have a tendency to believe violence against women is mainly a problem in other countries,” Commissioner Broderick said.

“As my personal experience working in this area at the Australian Human Rights Commission has shown me, it is an enormous problem in this country and happening all around us – to women of all backgrounds and income levels, women with disability, older, migrant, refugee, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and women of diverse sex, sexuality or gender.”

Research shows that one in three women in Australia has experienced physical violence at some time since the age of 15. Of those women, 85% were assaulted by a current or former partner, family, friend or other known male; and three quarters of these physical assaults occurred in the woman’s home.

Commissioner Broderick said violence against women was the worst form of discrimination against women, and domestic and family violence represented the ultimate betrayal within an intimate relationship.

“Domestic and family violence means that many women enter their own homes each day in a state of raw fear,” said Ms Broderick. “Added to this is the intense pressure and stress of trying to navigate violent behaviour while very often also trying to keep children, other family members and pets safe,” Ms Broderick said.

Commissioner Broderick said that, contrary to popular expectation, even the workplace did not provide a haven from abuse.

“Of the respondents to the 2011 National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey who reported experiencing violence, 19% said that the violence had continued in the workplace, including through abusive phone calls and emails and the perpetrator presenting at the workplace of the victim,” Ms Broderick said.

The same research found that less than half (48%) of respondents who had experienced domestic violence disclosed it to a manager or supervisor.

“Today, I’d like people to stop and think. ‘what can I do?’ – as friends, colleagues, employers or executives in large businesses – to support women living with violence, including making work a supportive and safe haven.”

Commissioner Broderick is in New York attending the UN’s 57th Commission on the Status of Women, the theme of which is the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.

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