September 5, 2013
Youth representatives Tim Shiels, Bokyong Mun and Jacobi Kohu-Morris were all asked about their opinions on violence in our society and the importance of the anti-violence message to New Zealanders. All three of thesesupporters voiced similar feelings towards male violence against women. Their experience of being Youth MPs has inspired them to become more passionate about equality in New Zealand and hopeful that a non-violent New Zealand will one day become a reality.
The three Youth MPs were asked whether violence was an important issue to them personally as well as to society as a whole. Tim Shiels echoed the feelings of everyone when he said “violence is, and should be, an important issue to all New Zealanders. It is an issue that crosses ethnicities; location; socio-economic classes; and gender.” Violence is a problem for those it directly affects as well as to those it doesn’t. Tim, Bokyong and Jacobi are all fortunate enough to have never experienced violence personally but as Jacobi said “that does not mean to say it doesn’t affect me or people I know. The media publicises cases of violence that definitely strikes a chord for me – and I am sure this is the case for many others also.” New Zealanders from all different and backgrounds and walks of life should be equally concerned with the issue of violence in our country.
Men have a big role to play in the prevention of violence, particularly within the White Ribbon campaign. Involvement from men ensures the message connects and is more effective. Having men talk to men is a foundation of the campaign. Bokyong identified that “if we want to address any kind of problem in society, all involved need to take responsibility, not just one party.” Men need to take action and be a positive force within the campaign. It is important that not only men are educated about violence but children as well; wider society needs to be aware of violence. Tim thinks that “some people find it easy to isolate violence to certain groups within New Zealand. It would be foolish and naïve to do so. Violence can affect all groups in New Zealand, and all New Zealanders. If we all say “it is not my problem”, nothing will ever be done to fix it.” Children will often be under the impression that if something doesn’t affect them then it is okay to not be worried about it. This idea needs to be turned on its head and everyone needs to be aware and understand the importance of confronting this issue.
Tim, Bokyong and Jacobi were asked to describe what a non-violent society for women would look like. Bokyong said it would be a place “where women are not manipulated and abused by men, who resort to expressing their frustration or anger by using violence against women.” Tim said that it would be a society where women are “free from the threat of violence” and Jacobi answered that it would be “a fair and equal society, where the whole family can be happy.”
All three of them felt that their time as Youth MP’s was a very valuable experience, opening them up to an array of new opportunities including their involvement in the White Ribbon campaign, making them more aware of the issues New Zealand society is facing and the improvements that need to take place.