It is pleasing to see that the Federal Government and Opposition are attempting to address the crisis that is violence against women and girls in this country.
The statistics should be well known by now, but so far our society has failed to deal with the gravity of this problem.
Australian women are nearly three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner.
By the age of 15, one in four women in Australia would have experienced emotional abuse by a current or previous partner, and one in six would have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a current or previous partner.
One in three Australian women experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by a man after the age of 15.
On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner.
More horrifying still is that COVID-19 brought with it a “shadow pandemic”, where there was not just an increase in numbers but also an increase in severity.
Just like the COVID pandemic, the domestic violence crisis reaches all areas of our society.
And the risk is not the same for all women; intersectional factors can increase a woman’s risk of harm. For example:
- A recent study by Harmony Alliance found one in three women from migrant and refugee backgrounds have experienced domestic violence, with women living on temporary visas at even greater risk
- Women with disabilities in Australia are around two times more likely than women without disabilities to have experienced sexual violence and intimate partner violence
- One in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 15 and over have experienced physical violence in a 12-month period
- Although there is a limited national database, LGBTIQA+ women in all their diversity experience domestic and family violence at a similar rate to the wider women population
16 Days of Activism
SSI will be joining the global campaign “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence” from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to December 10 (Human Rights Day).
The annual global campaign was initiated by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership and adopted by the United Nations to call for civil society action in addressing gender-based violence.
It is now a tool for actors working to advance Women’s Human Rights and social justice, including UN agencies, governments and grassroots women’s organisations who are raising awareness, mobilising constituents, demanding accountability and showcasing progress on eliminating gender-based violence.
The 2021 theme adopted by the United Nations is “Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!”
In line with the global trend, SSI will focus this year’s campaign on coercive control, with the theme “Orange the World: Stop Coercive Control in its tracks!”
Coercive control is one of the forms of abuse that is hard to recognise. It refers to a pattern of behaviours used by an abuser to control their partner and create an uneven power dynamic.
It involves a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten a victim and create invisible chains and a sense of fear that pervades all elements of a victim's life.
Several Australian states and the Commonwealth Government are planning to legislate on coercive control as it is the form of abuse that often underlies domestic homicide. It is important that communities understand coercive control as a pattern of abusive behaviour that has a severely detrimental impact survivors, even if there is no physical violence.
SSI will be hosting several activities that focus on creating awareness of coercive control and the 16 Days of Activism. They include a Q&A session on social media, a webinar educating staff about coercive control, and collaborating with other agencies to host the Annual Vigil to mark the International Day on November 25. The vigil will remember the women who have lost their lives to domestic homicide throughout the year.
We hope to provide the opportunity for our staff to take time out to pause, gain awareness, commit to action and assume accountability around any and all forms of gender-based violence.
The colour orange is symbolic of a vision for a brighter future, one free from violence. I encourage you to “orange the world” during the 16 Days of Activism.
Why not join in events in your community, for example the vigil online, and help raise awareness and confidence in responding to violence against women, creating a safer society for women and girls.
Free confidential support for women, including migrant, First Nations, LGBTIQ+, and disability specific services: