Campaign helps reduce violence toward women

By John Maslin of the Wanganui Chronicle -
Greg Tichbon, Vince Potaka, Tim Metcalfe and Jay Rerekura. Photo / Wanganui Chronicle
Greg Tichbon, Vince Potaka, Tim Metcalfe and Jay Rerekura. Photo / Wanganui Chronicle

Organisers of the annual White Ribbon Day believe violence toward women has been reduced since the campaign started six years ago.

Tim Metcalfe, executive officer Jigsaw Whanganui, said just talking to people in Wanganui gave a clear indication that people were very much aware of the campaign and what it was trying to achieve.

White Ribbon Day is held on November 25 and in Wanganui is recognised by a march up the main street. But Mr Metcalfe said because it falls on a Sunday this year, the organisers have decided to hold it the day before - Saturday, November 24.

Mr Metcalfe said there were some who would talk up violence perpetrated by women, "but our local data, at least, shows that 80 per cent of the police call-outs to violent events were men exercising abuse and violence toward women," he said.

"It's very rare that you encounter a man who spends 24/7 looking after his own safety. For women caught up in this violence it means they're spending every moment attending to their own safety."

He said he believed White Ribbon was having an effect and talking to people around the city showed more were aware of the campaign and what it was trying to achieve.

"It's difficult to get accurate data about family violence but one of the things we're seeing is that reporting to police continues to be at a very high level. And we believe the risk is also decreasing.

"There's also a high level of concern by family members and neighbours because they are also reporting the violence," he said.

Mr Metcalfe said the campaign's message was about getting people to speak up and report violence and for that reason White Ribbon Day gave men the opportunity to "stand tall and stand proud" and say they are not going to condone violence or remain silent about it.

This year's march will start at 11am from the Taupo Quay end of St Hill St, turning left into Taupo Quay then left again into Victoria Avenue to end at Majestic square. Men wanting to march are asked to assemble in St Hill St before 11am.

He said the day will have strong family focus and there will be plenty of entertainment and food at the square.

He said there was a "keen group" of people organising the event but he said they were signalling a change in emphasis this year.

"We want White Ribbon to be a year-long thing rather than something we remember and mark on one day with a march," he said.

"We're building a strong support network across the city and we've got about 20 men who have been meeting regularly to discuss putting their resources together."

For this year's campaign the local network had printed T-shirts and these will be selling for $15 each.

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