Taking steps to end the cycle of violence

A CAMPAIGN working to eliminate violence against women has paired powerful messaging with an everyday activity. A take-away coffee from 35 cafes across the south-west is more than just a dose of caffeine during a global, 16-day campaign.

Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West is just one of many organisations working to ensure eliminating violence against women and gender inequality is everyone’s business.

The organisation hopes a series of messaging on vivid orange cups prompts a conversation could save the life of a person experiencing behaviour that has a damaging impact on their physical, psychological, social, financial and spiritual well-being. Community events will also thrust the topic into the public sphere. 

It's somewhat perplexing, therefore, that Warrnambool venue Your Break chose White Ribbon Day - of all days - to arrange topless waitresses to serve patrons as part of a showgirls performance on Friday night.

Given the 16 days of activism is calling on people to rethink attitudes towards the value of women and their objectification, it's terrible timing and is in terribly poor taste - falling on a national day of awareness for a leading social issue. 

As the women’s wellbeing organisation’s Emily Lee-Ack says: "Given the huge support for #16DaysCoffeeCups which makes clear the link between sexist attitudes and violence against women, we’d be hoping that people are thinking critically about issues like objectification of women and the way that women are valued in the community." 

Then again, perhaps the timing is right. Maybe the timing of the choices of this business will work to serve as an active reminder of why eliminating violence against women and promoting gender equality is so very important. 

No section of the community is immune to family violence. It affects all demographics and all cultures. It affects women and girls in many ways – not always physically, but it’s always about power and control. 

The pages of this newspaper all too regularly detail the many cases appearing before judges and in our local courtrooms – incidents which occur not only behind closed doors but in our public places.

To say we have the power to influence change sounds simplistic, but the reality is violence is preventable. Stand up, take notice and have the conversation.

It could save a life. 

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