Ribbons flutter in campaign against violence

By Genevieve Helliwell

Men, women and children proudly wore white ribbons on their chests at Fraser Cove yesterday in support of a campaign committed to end violence against women.

About two dozen motorbikes ridden by the Super Maori Fullas and Patriot Riders arrived, as a part of their annual White Ribbon Ride through New Zealand to raise awareness of domestic violence.

Their entrance was marked by an exciting performance by Merivale Primary School kapa haka group.

Earlier in the evening, the motorcyclists rode through Te Puke and tied white ribbons to the trees, before parading through downtown Tauranga around 5pm, along Devonport Rd to Fraser Cove.

The annual tug-of-war competition entertained spectators, with intense competition between 12 teams.

Event organiser Raewyn Mortensen said the purpose of the event was to generate awareness of the issues of family violence and violence against women.

On White Ribbon Day tomorrow volunteers will be out at Red Square and other Tauranga areas giving out white ribbons and cards.

White Ribbon is a campaign led by men who condemn violence against women and take action.

Detective Sergeant Zane Smith, Bay of Plenty police district family violence co-ordinator, said White Ribbon Day was a chance for everyone in the community to come together to show their support for stopping family violence.

Police attend approximately 240 family violence occurrences a day - one every six minutes - and children were present at over 50 per cent of these incidents. In the Bay of Plenty District, 5238 charges were laid in relation to family violence between 1 July 2010 and 30 June 2011.

"These are terrible statistics, but we believe they actually only scratch the surface, as we know that many family violence incidents go unreported by victims, neighbours and others in the community. Only approximately 20 per cent of family violence incidents are reported."

Mr Smith said the Police Safety Orders (PSO), which came into effect in July last year, proved to be a valuable tool in addressing family violence. The orders mean police can use a PSO to remove someone from a property who is causing or could potentially cause harm to others.

Since July 1, Bay of Plenty Police have issued 263 PSO.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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