White Ribbon wants change not spare change

Volunteers handing out white ribbons on Wednesday want to change people’s attitudes about violence, not collect your spare change.

White Ribbon Day is held each year on 25 November and is the international day when people wear a white ribbon to show that they do not condone violence towards women. In New Zealand most violence by men against women takes place in the home – each year an average of 14 women are killed by their partners or ex-partners and more than 3500 convictions for assaults on women are recorded.“Violence in our community is never acceptable,” says Bruce Pilbrow, Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Families Commission. “White Ribbon Day is an international day to recognise the issue of violence by men against women and children. But let’s not kid ourselves. Acknowledging the problem is just the first step. We need men to become part of the solution.

“In the last month, the Families Commission has named eight White Ribbon Ambassadors who epitomise the message of the campaign. Actions often speak louder than words and we hope these leaders will inspire other men to take positive steps at home, in the workplace, or in social situations. By acting we can make our society safer and less tolerant of violence.”

Last year more than 500,000 New Zealanders pinned on white ribbons to register their personal commitment to standing up against violence and over 100 communities held events to raise awareness. This year there are even more events.

“The White Ribbon Campaign is not about naming and shaming people,” says Bruce Pilbrow. “Rather, it gives men the opportunity to ask for help, and highlights those willing to stand up and be counted. It’s a time for action. We want change in people’s lives, not your spare change!

Released earlier this year, the Family Violence Statistics Report 2009 report showed that one in three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives.

“Family violence statistics in New Zealand are frightening. I have two daughters, and to me they are the most precious thing in the world. I hope they grow up in a community where their partners would never consider violence and the only place they can experience family violence is by reading a history book,” says Bruce Pilbrow.

“We want people to know that they can make a difference. Simply by wearing the white ribbon, men can make it clear to other men that they do not tolerate violence against women. You can make sure your home, business or your sports club are safe environments, where abusive behaviour is not tolerated.

“Change comes in small increments. But working together we can make a real difference.”

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White Ribbon is a community led campaign to end men's violence towards women

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