White Ribbons for 133 family violence cases placed in Library Square, Carterton. PHOTO/GRACE PRIOR

133 white ribbons a reminder of family violence in district
Shift in masculinity cliches

GRACE PRIOR
grace.prior@age.co.nz

Beyond a painted rainbow path and hopscotch for children, 133 white ribbons stand solemnly. A reminder that violent relationships will not be condoned in the Carterton community.

The installation in Library Square was an initiative of Carterton District Council, which became the first district council in New Zealand to gain White Ribbon accreditation. Each ribbon represented a family harm incident investigated in Carterton in the past year.

Nationwide, police data for the year to August showed women made up 90 per cent of those violently assaulted and 98.6 per cent of those sexually assaulted by a partner or ex-partner.

New Zealand also had the highest rate of reported violence towards women in the developed world.

Carterton Mayor Greg Lang said the council was leading the way for the rest of the country, with every councillor supporting the pledge not to commit, condone or remain silent about violent relationships.

“Any sort of violence towards women and men is just not acceptable,” Lang said.

“Our community try to create an environment where everyone is equal. We’d like to create an environment where there is equal opportunity for everyone in the community, and everyone is interrelated.”

Carterton councillor Russell Keys said, “last year’s campaign was challenging the unspoken rules, which focused on the cliches about masculinity that men and boys inherit from society.”

“This year’s message carries on from that by the focusing on the outdated advice men have been given when growing up, that we can now see is unhealthy.”

“This is something I can really relate to, as I have seen the difference between what my generation was told growing up, and the positive shift to what the current generation is being taught about healthy relationships and outdated stereotypes. The White Ribbon kaupapa has played a massive part in this shift,” Keys said.

Parks and reserves manager Clinton Thompson said the ribbons were “powerful” to behold.

“That’s how many family harm incidents have been investigated in Carterton in one year alone,” he said. “That doesn’t include the rest of Wairarapa, or all the incidents which weren’t even reported.”

“We want people to look at these ribbons and know it is still happening in our community, and we need to address it.”

Masterton White Ribbon campaign organiser Hayley Wilton was working with the Wairarapa District Health Board. Masterton would also be putting up “adult and child sized wooden ribbons”, she said.

This year’s campaign would be “low key” in comparison to previous years, which had men walking a day in women’s shoes.

Wilton hoped the display would be interactive, allowing people to stop, take a photo, and take a moment to think about the impacts of family violence on our community.

The message for Masterton’s White Ribbon day this year was “#outdated” and was all about “having respectful and healthy relationships, getting men talking”, Wilton said.

Wilton would like to have the community get rid of the “old school mentality that it’s not my business so I’ll keep out of it”, and replace it with support.

  • For further information about the White Ribbon campaign and where to go to for help, visit whiteribbon.org.nz


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