human rights news & views

Stop violence against women

Women the world over share a one-in-three risk of physical or sexual abuse, with rates reaching 70% in some countries.

In Australia, over 400,000 men were violent towards women in 2005.  Almost 1.3 million Australian women have experienced physical and sexual violence from a current or former partner.

Women are at risk of violence in every society, in their home, community or in the context of armed conflict.  No matter who commits the violence, it’s a violation of women’s human rights.

A white ribbon, symbol of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 Nov.)White Ribbon Day and International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women — both 25 November — mark the first of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, culminating in International Human Rights Day on 10 December.

It’s a time to "look to what we, as individuals and a society, can do to change things for the better,” says Australian Human Rights Commissioner and White Ribbon Day Ambassador, Graeme Innes.

Here’s ten things men can do to end violence against women:

1. Listen to women . . . learn from women

2. Learn about the problem

3. Learn why some men are violent

4. Wear a white ribbon

5. Challenge sexist language and jokes that degrade women

6. Learn to identify and oppose sexual harassment and violence in your workplace, school and family

7. Support local women’s programs

8. Examine how your own behaviour might contribute to the problem

9. Work towards long-term solutions

10. Get involved with the White Ribbon campaign’s educational efforts

Concerned men and women everywhere can e-mail US Senators in support of the International Violence Against Women Act, drafted in consultation with Amnesty International and other leading NGOs.

You may also want to write to the Saudi King in defence of a young woman gang-raped and now sentenced to flogging for speaking out.

For Australian readers: If you or someone you know is at risk of sexual violence, here’s where you can get help.


  1. 6 December 2007 | 8:41 pm

    The al-Qatif ‘girl’, as she is known, was initially sentenced to 90 lashes and 6 months’ gaol for being in the company of a man not related to her.  Then aged 18, she was raped at knifepoint by 7 men who found her in a car with this unrelated man.

    Rape carries a maximum penalty of death in the Kingdom, but owing to a "lack of witnesses” and the "absence of confessions,” the rapists’ sentences, initially between one and five years imprisonment, were increased on appeal to between 2 and 9 years’.

    On appeal, the 19 year-old woman’s sentence was increased to 200 lashes with the same prison term.

    Her lawyer now faces disciplinary action and possible disbarment for describing his client as a victim rather than a criminal and suggesting the Saudi legal system is unfair.

    The case has been controversial within Saudi Arabia.

  2. 17 December 2007 | 8:23 pm

    After national and international outrage, this Saudi woman has been given a royal pardon.

Leave a reply

Subscribe to website updates by email