Citizen Journalism

Archive for the ‘Sexual Abuse’ Category

The politics of ending violence against women

In Sarah Capper, Sexual Abuse on May 24, 2013 at 12:03 PM


By Sarah Capper
Sheilas editor

May 24, 2013

A couple of months ago, I took a cab ride into Melbourne city. The conversation moved to what job I had – and when I mentioned the Victorian Women’s Trust, the young male cab driver looked a bit perplexed. I explained that the Trust funds projects addressing discrimination and disadvantage faced by women and girls living in Victoria, only to be greeted by more confused looks.

When he asked specifically what I worked on, I said ‘Communications and Policy’, and the conversation drifted towards law reform and I mentioned working on addressing men’s violence against women.

He asked about laws relating to this. I mentioned family violence, sexual offences and how many laws over history were created by men and not necessarily ideal in terms of outcomes for women. I then made the quip that it was only in the early 1980s that rape in marriage became illegal. This caused the biggest eyebrow raise, which I could see through his rear vision mirror from the backseat.

“Rape in marriage?” he said, with a high inflection in his voice that indicated a question.

“Well, when a woman, in this case, a wife, is forced to have sex with her husband, without her consent, against her will – as in raped,” I tried.

“But what do you mean?” he genuinely asked, followed by an incredulous, “She’s my wife!”.

I could see we needed a much longer cab ride to address the ‘confusion’. I had one more attempt at explaining, paid the fare, and was again reminded of the world I inhabit, and the disconnect between the ‘ordinary person’ and the sector I work in, and how there is a daunting amount of work to continue.


Last week I was at the inaugural White Ribbon International conference, where participants were overloaded in hearing three days of talks centred on the prevention of men’s violence against women.

The official opening of the conference included a panel of pollies – welcoming guests to Sydney and all talking the talk on their commitment to violence prevention.

We had the Federal Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins, open the conference with a $1 million announcement to set up a new national organisation to engage with the community on preventing violence against women and children. Collins apologised for the Prime Minister being unable to attend, because she was attending to a little document known as the ‘Federal Budget’.

Collins was followed by the Shadow federal Minister, Senator Michaelia Cash, who told us the issue was “above politics” and talked about how committed Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is in addressing the issue. So committed, she mentioned ‘Tony’s Pollie Pedal’ and raising money for the Manly women’s refuge in his electorate.

Cash departed after giving her speech – noted at the start of the NSW Women’s Minister Pru Goward’s address, “and I thank Senator Cash who is leaving now”, and the others followed suit soon after their official duties and the session ended.

Inside the conference booklet, we had a message from the Prime Minister Julia Gillard, about how the “Australian Government stands with White Ribbon in its endeavour”.

This was followed by a message from Victoria’s Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge, who wrote of the State’s Action Plan to Address Violence against Women and Children as covering “prevention, early intervention, and response measures”.

And finally there was a message from federal Green leader Senator Christine Milne, who wrote about campaigning to make domestic and family violence as a separate form of discrimination in law. On the surface, it appears that politicians really care about this issue.

The conference itself included a mix of speakers from around the country, with some international ‘gurus’ in the prevention of men’s violence against women also attending – like White Ribbon founder Michael Kaufman and educator and author Jackson Katz.

Both gave arresting presentations, with Katz in particular honing in on some home truths. Katz joked about being applauded for stating the bleeding obvious on various issues that even still seem to be missed by mainstream media discussion – for instance he talked about the gun massacres in the United States and noted that of the last 60 odd gun massacres, all but one were perpetrated by men – and how that if this had been reversed in terms of gender, there would be widespread discussion about ‘what is wrong with our women?’ – yet instead, the debate focuses on gun control and mental health, and is devoid of gender analysis.

Kaufman talked about the history of White Ribbon, and its humble Canadian beginnings around kitchen tables, and talked about how societies which have bigger gaps in gender equality and reinforce traditional roles of men and women, also have higher rates of men’s violence against women. Read the rest of this entry »

Nancy Cato’s hopes for the Royal Commission into Institutional sexual abuse of children

In Nancy Cato, Sexual Abuse on April 29, 2013 at 11:52 AM
Royal Commission

Created by Alan Moir

By Nancy Cato
April 29, 2013

This is my final attempt to face my demons, or at least some of them. It’s only taken 37 years.

In 1976 as a young mother with a newborn babe – my third child – I read a story of a shocking case of Child Abuse; it told of a father shaking his baby and throwing her against a wall after molesting her.

It traumatised me – still does – my hands are shaking as I recount this story. I‘ve been in denial for many years and because I wish to make a positive contribution to the scourge of  Child Abuse that’s in out midst (as I tried to do in my early television days) I must face it.

My catalyst is the recently appointed Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. At its first hearing on 3 April 2013 Justice McClellan AM, the chair for the Royal Commission, acknowledged that there had been harm committed against children that has caused lasting damage.

It’s a start.

I will admit that I’ve been further stung into action by the recent suggestion from a well-known radio broadcaster that a young girl may have herself  provoked the sexual attack she suffered.

This piece is dedicated to victims of Child Abuse wherever you may be, no matter your age or circumstances. It was not easy to write, albeit fantasised and is probably less easy to read – and for that I do apologise. I hope some of you will persevere to the end.

It is not aimed at any one Institution, person, place or thing… but rather, we ourselves; this society that would seem to want to protect its borders more fiercely than its children. Read the rest of this entry »