White Ribbon Campaign: Men Working to End Violence Against Women

Written by: Sophie Taylor and The White Ribbon Campaign

White Ribbon Campaign UK is part of a global movement to put a stop to male violence against women and girls. This is not and never has been a “women’s issue”. The campaign addresses men directly so they understand the scale of the problem and become part of the solution, alongside women.

‘Everyone has a crucial role to play in creating a culture where male violence, abuse and harassment against women and girls are simply seen as unacceptable.’  The campaign supports us all to take a stand against gender violence in their workplaces, schools, communities and families.

The White Ribbon Campaign is not anti-male – this is about creating space for more positive, healthy ways of identifying as male.  Most men are opposed to violence against people, regardless of gender, and restrictive gender roles harm all of us, however we identify.

On the 25th November, the world marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, also known as White Ribbon Day. From then until the 10th December, the campaign aims to encourage everyone to take part in the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence.

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Domestic violence and violence against men and women is not gender specific. Every act of violence is wrong and everyone, regardless of gender, has the right to a life free of violence. Statistics show that domestic abuse against men is increasing in the UK. If you are a man experiencing violence, you do not have to put up with it. Help is available. Contact Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327. Respect, a charity helping men and women to work together to end domestic violence, run an online contact centre. Refuge also have an area of their website dedicated to violence against men.

The rates of violence against men has almost doubled since 2005. The BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast obtained figures from the Crowns Prosecution Service showing that almost 4,000 women were successfully prosecuted in the past year, compared with 1,500 women in 2005, a 169% increase. However, statistically, males remain the main offenders of violence with the numbers convicted increasing from more than 28,000 in 2005 to just over 55,000 in 2010.

‘A staggering one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime—a pandemic of global proportions. Unlike an illness, however, perpetrators and even entire societies choose to commit violence—and can choose to stop. Violence is not inevitable and can be prevented. But it’s not as straightforward as eradicating a virus. There is no vaccine, medication or cure. And there is no one single reason for why it happens.’

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As such, prevention strategies should be holistic, with multiple interventions undertaken in parallel in order to have long-lasting and permanent effects. Many sectors, actors and stakeholders need to be engaged. More evidence is emerging on what interventions work to prevent violence—from community mobilisation to change social norms, to comprehensive school interventions targeting staff and pupils, to economic empowerment and income supplements coupled with gender equality training.

In 1991, a handful of men in Canada decided they had a responsibility to urge men to speak out against violence against women. They decided that wearing a white ribbon would be a symbol of men’s opposition to men’s violence against women. After only six weeks preparation, as many as one hundred thousand men across Canada wore a white ribbon. Many others were drawn into discussion and debate on the issue of men’s violence. There are now White Ribbon Campaigns operating in many countries around the world. The UK Branch of WRC was started in 2004.

What does it mean to wear a white ribbon?

Wearing a white ribbon is a personal pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women. Each year, they encourage men and boys to wear a ribbon for one or two weeks, starting on November 25, the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women.

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What are the goals of the WRC and how do volunteers accomplish these objectives?

The White Ribbon Campaign are an educational organisation, encouraging reflection and discussion that leads to personal and collective action among men. Throughout the year, they encourage men to do educational work in schools, workplaces and communities, to support local women’s groups, to raise money for the international educational efforts of the WRC.

They distribute Education and Action kits to schools and speak out on issues of public policy. Some local groups organise events to talk about positive roles for men, about the importance of men being care givers and nurturers and the importance of building healthy relationships.

Get involved by wearing, swearing and sharing:

WEAR – Get your hands on a white ribbon badge and wear it proudly to show your solidarity.

SWEAR – Sign the pledge. Over 25,000 men and boys in the UK, and many thousands more worldwide, have already committed to oppose violence against women and girls. Join now by making your pledge never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women.

SHARE – Spread the word to family and friends and get it out on social media tagging @menantiviolence and #wrc25Nov. Give them a follow them on Facebook and Twitter and show your support.

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More ways to help:

MAKE A DONATION – To help make the world a safer place for women and girls, and create more positive ways of being a man. They will send everyone who donates a White Ribbon badge and a Starter Pack for supporters, and send you Campaign updates.

BECOME AN AMBASSADOR – They’re looking for influential men and boys to encourage other men and boys to take a stand against gender violence.  To be role models who inspire and inform through talking in schools, workplaces etc., on social media and through their own personal behaviour. They call out abusive and sexist behaviour wherever they witness it. They listen to and support women, and encourage other men and boys to step up. They show we do not buy the idea that being a man means being aggressive and dominant.

GET INVOLVED – There are hundreds of events taking place across the UK on 25th November and during the 16 Days of Activism.  Contact your local council’s Domestic Violence Co-ordinator to find out more, or organise your own event, now and throughout the year! Take a look at their “Get Involved” page for more ideas.

STAY IN TOUCH – Keep up to date by signing up for their newsletter. Be part of the growing network of men who will never allow violence against women and girls to go unnoticed and unchallenged.   

For more information, visit White Ribbon Campaign and UN Women and read CEO David Bartlett‘s blog here

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