Editorial: Everyone has a duty to stop family violence

A FEW years ago the comments made on radio recently by Eddie McGuire and other high-profile football identities about Fairfax Media journalist Caroline Wilson would have caused barely a ripple.

Even just a few months ago the very same comments may well have been justified as the sort of buffoonery we should expect and excuse in the male-dominated football entertainment industry.

In fact, the Collingwood president’s comments on low-brow radio station Triple M very nearly did slip through to the keeper, only being brought to the wider public’s attention nearly a week later.

But the utterances, in which Mr McGuire said he would pay money to see Ms Wilson drowned in a pool of ice, came at a time when awareness about the scourge of violence against women has never been greater.

Slowly the broader Australian society is beginning to understand the power of words in reinforcing and perpetuating discrimination and even violence.

Credible research, including by violence prevention group Our Watch, demonstrates a clear link between casual sexism and violence.

Worryingly, there are still too many people who do not accept this. 

There is a vocal minority that has popped up, mainly on talkback radio, Facebook and Twitter, to dismiss the furore as a further incursion of political correctness.

They have bemoaned the erosion of their so-called alienable right to offend, demean and bully whoever they damn well please, as long as it is under the guise of a joke.

Let us be very clear: violence against women is not, and never was, funny. 

If you doubt that, consider the following statistics from Women’s Health Grampians:

one woman is murdered by her partner or ex-partner every week;

one in three women will experience physical violence in their lifetime;

one in five women will experience sexual violence during their lifetime.

And, if you need any more convincing, consider that in 2014-15 there were 3411 reported family violence incidents in the Grampians region alone.

Only recently has the fact family violence is at plague proportions in Australia finally dawned on our elected leaders at state and federal level, but there is only so much our politicians can do. 

It is everyone’s responsibility to stamp out this scourge.

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