Tag Archives: Australia

Day 3 of 16 Days of Activism: Australia

#Day3 of #16Days explores another English-speaking country with a history of English subjugation and genocide against Native people. Just like in the United States 1 of every 3 women in Australia will experience sexual or domestic violence. Available in 28 spoken languages as well as Auslan–Australian Sign Language, 1800RESPECT is the Australian National Sexual Assault, Family Violence Counselling Service. They offer free help to survivors of violence and their friends and family by phone and through chat 24/7. You can learn more about the work they do from their YouTube Page. They also have a map of organizations throughout the country that provide help to Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander women, children and families. Additionally they provide help to service providers from dealing with vicarious trauma to webinars on cultural issues to working with people with disabilities. From their website:

While living free from violence is everyone’s right, reducing violence is everyone’s responsibility. Reducing all violence in our community is a priority. All forms of violence are unacceptable, in any community and in any culture.

Domestic or family violence and sexual assault are the more pervasive forms of violence experienced by women; they can also happen to men. These forms of violence cause significant personal, social and economic costs for all in our community.

1800RESPECT-Poster
The Australian Government Department of Social Services website has crisis line numbers for each territory, as well as the national Mensline Australia–1300 789 978– (a professional telephone and online support and information service for Australian men) and explains domestic violence and sexual assault this way:

Domestic or family violence can include any behaviours used by one person to establish and maintain power and control over their partner or another person in his/her family, including:

  • physical abuse – including direct assaults on the body, use of weapons, driving dangerously, destruction of property, abuse of pets in front of family members, assault of children, locking the victim out of the house, and sleep deprivation.
  • sexual abuse – any form of forced sex or sexual degradation, such as sexual activity without consent, causing pain during sex, assaulting genitals, coercive sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease, making the victim perform sexual acts unwillingly, criticising, or using sexually degrading insults.
  • emotional abuse – blaming the victim for all problems in the relationship, constantly comparing the victim with others to undermine self-esteem and self-worth, sporadic sulking, withdrawing all interest and engagement (e.g. weeks of silence).
  • verbal abuse – continual ‘put downs’ and humiliation, either privately or publicly, with attacks following clear themes that focus on intelligence, sexuality, body image and capacity as a parent and spouse.
  • social abuse – systematic isolation from family and friends through techniques such as ongoing rudeness to family and friends, moving to locations where the victim knows nobody, and forbidding or physically preventing the victim from going out and meeting people.
  • economic abuse – complete control of all monies, no access to bank accounts, providing only an inadequate ‘allowance’, using any wages earned by the victim for household expenses.
  • spiritual abuse – denying access to ceremonies, land or family, preventing religious observance, forcing victims to do things against their beliefs, denigration of cultural background, or using religious teachings or cultural tradition as a reason for violence.

Sexual violence is any behaviour of a sexual nature which is unwanted or occurs without consent. It includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse and rape. Sexual violence is an abuse of power which may involve the use of physical force, threat or coercion.

Some Australians still feel that violence against women is condoned in their country and their culture, much as many Americans do,  and reporting rates are similar as well: 64% of Australian women who experienced physical assault and 81.1% of women who experienced sexual assault still did not report it to police. While progress is being made it’s clear that Australia still has a long way to go.

 


Day 14- Women’s Activism in North America and Oceania

North America and Oceania may seem like a strange pairing, but especially because much of the activism of the women in the United States has already been covered, grouping some of the original commonwealth countries–Canada, Australia and New Zealand–together seemed logical. Oceania is comprised of dozens of small island nations that make up Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia, in addition to Australia and New Zealand. Not to diminish the rights and struggles of the peoples of small nations or under foreign control but for our purposes, any location we consider will be an independent country with a population of more than 100,000.

Australia: The land down under is paying tribute to four women who have pushed to advance gender equality in Australia by immortalizing them in stamps: Germaine Greer, Eva Cox, Elizabeth Evatt, and Anne Summers will all be awarded the Australian Post Australian Legends Award for 2011. Last year Australia elected it’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who is currently on the losing side of public opinion with regards to marriage equality. Fifty-seven percent of Australians support marriage equality but she remains opposed to it. This page offers interesting insights into other battles women, especially migrant women, in Australia have historically faced.

New Zealand: The first nation in the world to grant all women the right to vote, in 1893, and to elect a transgender person to parliament, in 1999, New Zealand prides itself on a (slightly misleading) image of gender equality. The youngest person ever elected to the NZ parliament (and editor of the below mentioned book written by women of the Solomon Islands), Marilyn Waring, recollects her journey to political power here. Issues of domestic violence, the gender wage gap, underrepresentation in politics, and discrimination against the indigenous Maori people all still affect Kiwi women. And while the LGBTQAI community in New Zealand does enjoy most human rights, including some representation in government offices, marriage and adoption are still hurdles to be overcome.

Fiji: An innovative technique for raising awareness of young, rural women’s issues in Fiji, Tonga and the Solomon Islands is coming through community radio in Fiji. A weeklong training session, held annually, was arranged by FemLINKPACIFIC, which also address issues of disability, and peace and security through their inclusive, and intelligent approach. FemLINKPACIFIC’s Executive Director is personally breaking the silence around women’s health issues in Fiji by blogging with humor and poignancy about her experiences with breast cancer. Recently, Fiji islanders have had to deal with significant political violence, and Christian extremism which left women without governmental allies in the fight against domestic violence. Marital rape and lack of decision-making capabilities also leave many women in Fiji without a say in their own contraception and pregnancy options. Despite these obstacles, the women of Fiji have a long history of virulently demanding their rights

Papua New Guinea: In a country where sorcery is blamed for deaths caused by AIDS, women suffer tremendous violence in the name of eradicating witchcraft. Nearly 2/3 of women in Papua New Guinea experience domestic violence at some point in their lives and fully half of all women there are raped, partly because there are no laws against these crimes. Sometimes crime goes the other direction and men and boys are victimized, showing how seriously a culture of rape affects everyone involved. But women in Papua New Guinea are courageously combating both physical violence and the spread of HIV though activism. Environmental issues such as mining, logging, fisheries, and palm oil production also have a significant impact on the lives of women in Papua New Guinea and so they speak out about those issues too.

Solomon Islands: The voices of the women of the Solomon Islands have rarely been heard, either within their country or by outsiders, but the book Being the First broke that cycle of silence. Women in this island nation have been an integral part of the use of restorative justice in peacebuilding after years of ethnic tensions and violence. Violence against women is a serious issue in this country and women have been vital in PeaceWomen to combat injustices. Young women in Solomon Islands are also speaking out about climate change and its disproportionate effects on women and indigenous peoples. The women of the YWCA are also critical in the fight for equality.

Samoa: Transgender activist and community leader, Dr. Vena Sele, has continuously fought for equality while expressing one of the traditional gender roles in Samoa as a fa’afafine. Some Samoa bloggers are taking on tradition by speaking out about taboo subjects. This article explains current laws with regard to human rights in Samoa, and this article is a witty explanation of how damaging misconceptions can be.

Tonga: At least one women’s rights activist in the Kingdom of Tonga has raised concerns that the November 2010 election of Lord Tu’ivakano was not the victory for democracy that it was touted to be. Women activists have every right to be weary of the men in politics in Tonga, especially since the country refused to ratify CEDAW and the newly appointed Police Minister was previously charged with assaulting his wife. The Women and Children Crisis Center WCCC, a Mama Cash grantee, is one group working to change the acceptability of domestic violence in Tonga. They have been internationally recognized for their work and won the Pacific Human Rights Award in December 2010, and the Global Social Change Film Festival & Institute Activist Award for their work in the film Paradise Glossed: Women, Violence and ‘The Friendly Islands’

Canada: One look at Amnesty International’s Canada blog shows how determined Canadian women are in fighting for all women’s rights everywhere. Canada is a much more liberal, accepting and equal society than are we to the south, but no nation is perfect. Gender-based violence and blatant discrimination, including uninvestigated disappearances, against indigenous people still rock Canada on a regular basis. The government has not done much to address these inequalities but activists continue to speak out. On a side note–if you are a Canadian reproductive rights activist, age 19-30, go here to participate in a survey, please.

Mexico: While the Mexican government is sending women to jail for having an abortion, the femicides of Juarez, Mexico have been a disgrace to the world for years. More than 1,000 women have been killed there in the past 18 years. Many groups including Women of Juarez and Nuestras Hihas de Regreso a Casa (which has pages in many languages), fight to end the impunity in the brutal rapes, torture and murders of the women of Ciudad Juarez. Aqui hay un gran coleccion de articulos sobre los feminicidios. Y aqui Patricia Sanchez-Espinosa escrita que Ni Una Más será aceptable. And despite activists who speak out against this overwhelming violence being murdered as well, women in Mexico and around the world continue to raise their voices for justice for these women.

Enough of the violence against women- not one more!

Join the discussion for the next 7 days as we explore the many forms of violence against women and the incredible activists and organizations that are working to change the world.


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