This is the story of a boy, and a girl. It’s a universal story. And an Australian story. It’s a story that occurs every two minutes,
in fact. A story that happens 657 times a day, every
day of the year. And in every kind of household, and every
city and region across Australia. This is the bigger story behind violence against
women. This story doesn’t have a happy ending. Because this is the story of how gender inequality
contributes to the murder of one Australian woman almost every week. Sounds like a tall tale, right? Let’s take things back to the start. Here’s the story of a regular woman. As a girl, she gets told how pretty she is,
never how clever she is. That if she wears a short dress she’s asking
for it. She grows up, and gets used to being harassed
by men on the street. That’s just the way it is. Here’s the story of a regular man. As a boy, he learns that women aren’t equal
to men from a very early age. Even though both his parents work, on the
weekends his mum does the housework while dad watches sport. When he cries about being bullied at school,
his dad tells him to ‘stop being such a girl’ and just ‘punch ’em right back.’ Technically speaking, we’d say that these
social norms, practices and structures have shaped both the boy and the girl, creating
a society where women are valued less and men are expected to be dominant and in control. In such a world, disrespect and hostility
is excused, and violence against women is far more likely. But back to our story. The girl grows up into a woman, the boy grows
into a man, and they begin to date. He jokes that he hopes she doesn’t get fat
now that they’re together. She’s not sure whether she should laugh. They have the same education and do similar
work, yet he earns more money. He is quickly promoted, like other men in
the company, while she gets overlooked. At home, she does all the household chores,
and he takes control of their joint finances, seeing as he’s the main breadwinner and all. When they’re at the pub, he puts her down
in in front of his mates. His friends stay quiet. In the morning he wakes up and blames the
alcohol. And stress. He always has an excuse. When she gets pregnant, her boss says she
can’t come back part-time. After the baby is born, the lack of flexible
job opportunities and childcare keeps her out of the workforce. She is socially isolated and financially dependent
on him. He controls decision making, and her. They are not equals. She is dependent on him for everything. So she never tells anyone that he has started
to hit her. She doesn’t say anything to her family or
friends. She grows more isolated. She has nothing else but
him, so she lives with the violence, until their story ends, one way or another. This story isn’t a one-off. It’s a story shared by 1 in 4 Australian women
who have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner. And it’s a story of one in five who experience
sexual violence including rape, one in four emotional
violence and one in three women physical violence since the age of 15. It’s also a story that affects children. Almost half of the women who experience violence
by an ex-partner said children had seen or heard the violence. For victims & perpetrators, violence against
women is the conclusion often reached after a life lived in a society where women and
men aren’t treated equally. But we – you, and I – can change the narrative. Better education, policies, practices, support
and funding can prevent this all-too-common story. When women and men have equal power, value
and opportunities in relationships and in society, violence against women is less likely. By nurturing caring, respectful and equal
relationships, and by creating equitable and inclusive
communities, workplaces and institutions, we can create a society of equality and respect
where violence against women is unthinkable. Let’s change the story. Because ending violence against women starts
with gender equality.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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