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Research Reveals Excuses for Abuse


25 November 2015 at 1:30 pm
Lina Caneva
On national White Ribbon day confronting new research has revealed that from an early age Australians look for reasons to excuse domestic violence and gender inequality.

Lina Caneva | 25 November 2015 at 1:30 pm


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Research Reveals Excuses for Abuse
25 November 2015 at 1:30 pm

On national White Ribbon day confronting new research has revealed that from an early age Australians look for reasons to excuse domestic violence and gender inequality.

The research found that excuses for violence included, “boys will be boys”, “it’s not that bad, it’s not like he punched her” and “it takes two to tango”.

These excuses, and many others, were highlighted in new research commissioned by the Federal Government to mark the significance of this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The Government said the research, which was undertaken to inform a national campaign, showed there was almost universal community acceptance that violence against women is wrong.

However, the research found that there were deeply entrenched and often unconscious community attitudes that minimise, rationalise and accept gendered attitudes that could lead to violence.

COAG Advisory Panel on Reducing Violence against Women and their Children Chair, Ken Lay, said the research showed that girls as young as 10 felt they were to blame for aggressive behaviour from boys. And that boys and the people who influence them excuse their behaviour.

“I was deeply disturbed by these findings. They shocked me to my very core,” Lay said.

“These attitudes of gender inequality are so embedded that we don’t challenge them – we can’t challenge them because we don’t even see them.

“We need to see them. We need to challenge them. We need to own them.”

Lay said that, unwittingly, Australia was harmfully shaping children’s futures because of its unchecked and unfair assumptions about gender.

“This research confirms that disrespect of women is unconsciously accepted from a very early age,” he said.

“And for all the things I’ve seen in my many years at Victoria Police, this important evidence of the origins of gendered violence – and our complacency to it – brought me to tears.

“I felt embarrassed. I felt ashamed. It got me thinking, the State with all its power and authority is simply not enough to stop the fundamental drivers of family violence.”  

Responding to the report, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said violence against women was one of the great shames of the nation.

“One in five women in Australia experiences sexual violence, one in four experiences emotional abuse and one in three experiences physical violence,” Turnbull said.

“We need to break this cycle, and that starts with understanding where the problem begins.”

The Government said it would use the research to inform the development of a $30 million national campaign, due to begin early next year, to reduce violence against women and their children.

Ken Lay delivered his keynote address at Monash University, Melbourne. The address can be accessed here.


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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