by Salam Zreika and Irfan Yusuf
YOU may have been shocked to see the most recent TV commercial for White Ribbon Day. In case you haven't seen it and are wondering what everyone's talking about, here is a brief summary.
A husband and wife are eating a meal quietly together in their home until they are disturbed by the sound of their neighbour shouting at and beating up his female partner repeatedly.
After a few moments of hearing screams and shouts as they try to eat, the husband picks himself and a baseball bat up, knocks on his neighbour's door and hands the offending male the bat, saying something like "here - this will help".
The message backing this disturbing ad is simple: "If you stay silent about violence against women, you may as well lend a hand. Or a baseball bat."
These days, we often see women working their way up in the world, showing success and gaining respect from their male colleagues.
Take one of us, for example. When she isn't bossing her husband around, Salam works in a senior role in a major financial institution. She also has martial arts training, and is quite confident she could defend herself against a male trying to assault her.
What we both have in common is we are Aussie Mossies, young Muslims brought up in Australia. One was born here, the other missed out by around five months. But we both know how prevalent domestic violence is in our own and other faith communities.
This year, one of us will join two other Muslim men and numerous other prominent men as ambassadors for White Ribbon Day in Australia.
Part of that role includes encouraging imams in Australia to devote their sermons this Friday to tackling the issue of domestic violence.
White Ribbon Day started in Canada in 1991. It was the initiative of a small group of men who wanted other men to speak out more about violence against women. But after 14 or so White Ribbon Days, there is still an big rise in violence against women, both in domestic and public settings, and across all faith communities.
It is actually quite disgusting to think that there are many men out there who still think it is all right to physically or emotionally hurt women because they believe they have the power or the right to do so.
Many people are oblivious to how common violence against women is.
Studies have shown more than a million Australian women experienced violence during a relationship with 600,000 women claiming they have lived in fear during a relationship. Worse, 20 per cent of women were pregnant when the violence first occurred!
Many victims are too frightened to report, and suffer in silence.
Friday November 25 is White Ribbon Day, the UN's designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
This year, men are being asked to wear white ribbons as a symbol they will no longer condone or stay silent about this issue. Whatever you think of the UN, no one can doubt the importance of this day and the urgency of this issue.
(This article is to be published in the Daily Telegraph on 23 November 2005)
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Tuesday, November 22, 2005
by Salam Zreika and Irfan Yusuf