What is 16 Days of Activism

25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and marks Day One of the 16 Days of Activism.

Each year, from 25 November to 10 December, World Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign calls for action against one of the world’s most persistent violations of human rights.

2020’s theme for 16 Days of Activism is “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”. Over the next 16 days, we will be active on social media sharing insights, raising awareness on lesser known gender-based violence topics and sharing ways to get more involved in advocacy and action to eliminate violence.

How did 16 Days of Activism start?

On 25 November 1960, sisters Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal, three political activists who stood up against systematic violence of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, were clubbed to death and left at the bottom of a cliff in a jeep by Trujillo’s secret police. The actions of the Dominican secret police and subsequent deaths of the sisters are considered as major factors that led to the fall of Trujillo’s regime.

The Mirabal sisters’ name have since have become symbols of the feminist resistance and the dangers facing women globally.

The Mirabel Sisters

In commemoration of their deaths, 25 November was declared International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Latin America in 1980 and became formally recognised by the United Nations in 1999. In June 1991, the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL), alongside participants of the first Women’s Global Institute on Women, Violence and Human Rights came up with a call to action for the world and 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence was born.

But that happened in the Dominican Republic, surely it isn’t that bad in Australia?

We’ve created a quiz for 16 Days of Activism – this is your chance to find out how much you really know about gender-based violence in our own backyard.

Spoiler alert – gender-based violence is a global issue and here in Australia as well! The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated an existing issue.

(Note – If the embedded quiz below doesn’t work for you – keep scrolling and you’ll find the Q&As below in plain text!)

16 Days of Activism Quiz (plain-text)

Okay, we are going to ask a series of questions about gender-based violence in Australia to see what you know.

During 16 Days of Activism we discuss topics including family and domestic violence and sexual violence. We acknowledge these topics are serious and sensitive and may resonate with people in different ways and respect your autonomy and decision to stop the quiz at any time if you’re feeling affected.

More information and support is available at:

  • 1800RESPECT – 1800 737 732
  • MensLine Australia -1300 78 99 78
  • QLife Australia – 1800 184 527
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
Is gender-based violence preventable?

All forms of violence are preventable and preventing violence is everyone’s business.

Research shows that domestic and family violence happens in all parts of society, irrespective of race, gender, age, sexual identity, socio-economic status, location, culture or religion.

Strategies to promote healthy, respectful, and nonviolent relationships are an important part of prevention.

Primary prevention of gender-based violence refers to…

Addressing gender equality and preventing gender-based violence requires systemic change, policy shifts, and long-term investment at all levels of community.

Primary prevention of gender-based violence aims to transform attitudes, behaviours and culture that underpins this violence. We need to fund primary prevention in order to end gender-based violence and address gender inequality as well as other intersecting forms of inequalities. Critically, it needs to occur in all settings across our communities and be undertaken by everyone

It’s not limited to but involves everyday action from us all, such as being a positive bystander, challenging gender stereotypes and celebrating diversity and reflecting on your own attitudes and behaviours.

What proportion of women above the age of 15 have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence in Australia?

The sad reality is that this physical and sexual violence is common in Australia and under-reported.

1 in 5 Australian women (18.4%) has experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.

1 in 4 Australian women (23.0%) has experienced physical or sexual violence by current or former intimate partner since age 15.

Young women (18–24 years) experience significantly higher rates of physical and sexual violence than women in older age groups.

Which of the following statements are true about violence against women?
  • Violence against women is only caused by men being unable to handle their anger
  • Alcohol is the major leading cause of violence against women
  • Financial stress is the leading cause of violence against women
  • None of the above

None of these statements are true, no one asks for or deserves to be abused.

Although one-off incidents do happen, domestic and family violence is usually an ongoing pattern of behaviour. It’s rare that it’s just a one time thing.

Domestic and family violence is a way of controlling a victim and may involve what is known as a ‘cycle of abuse’. At the heart of the issue is the abuse of power and control over another person. We mostly associate this with physical violence but it can be verbal, social, emotional, psychological, financial, sexual or spiritual. It can include isolating a person from their friends, harming pets or stalking a person.

There is no single cause that leads to domestic violence but there are a number of risk factors associated with perpetrators and victims of domestic violence. The use of drugs or alcohol, anger management issues or money worries may be triggers for domestic and family violence, but they are not the cause.

Is gender-based violence experienced by all women and people of marginalised genders in the same way?

Violence is experienced by everyone differently.

Research shows that domestic and family violence happens in all parts of society, regardless of race, gender, age, sexual identity, socio-economic status, location, culture or religion.

However, some groups of people experience compounding social inequalities, discrimination and intersecting challenges which can change the effects and recovery journey from experiencing violence.

For example, women from diverse cultures and backgrounds can face different barriers reporting violence or getting support. Examples include access to interpreters, social isolation, pressure from community and visa restrictions.

LGBTIQ+ people experience domestic and family violence from a partner at similar rates as those who identify as heterosexual but may be less likely to identify domestic and family violence or seek help because of discrimination or heterosexual stereotypes. LGBTIQ+ people can experience unique forms of violence such as threats of being outed.

Which of the following are forms of gender-based violence?
  • Early marriage
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Human Trafficking
  • Stealthing – Removing a condom during sex without consent
  • Forcing someone to have an abortion

These are all forms of gender-based violence.

Violence against women is any act of gender-based violence that causes or could cause physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of harm or coercion, in public or in private life. — UN Declaration

On average how many women are killed by a partner or former partner in Australia?

On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner.

Women continue to be over-represented as victims of intimate partner homicide, accounting for 79% of all intimate partner homicides. A recent review found that between 2010 and 2014, 80% of intimate partner homicides that followed an identifiable history of partner violence, involved a man killing his female partner.

People experiencing domestic violence can get support…
  • Police
  • 1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732
  • Local support services
  • Aurora or Daisy App

You can access support in lots of different places.

All of the ways depicted are ways you can access support if you are experiencing domestic and family violence.

Not every way depicted will be suitable for everyone and accessing support is a personal choice. People experiencing domestic or family violence often fear that if they report violence or take legal action, it will make everything worse.

The decision whether or not to report a sexual assault, domestic or family violence or abuse to the police is up to an individual, it is not an easy thing to do. and for many reasons people may choose not to go to police. It is best to support and respect a person making their own choices.

  • 1800RESPECT – 1800 737 732
  • MensLine Australia – 1300 78 99 78
  • QLife Australia – 1800 184 527
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
What can you do if someone discloses they are experiencing domestic and family violence?
  • listen to your family member or friend, let them tell you the ways they are keeping safe
  • call 1800 RESPECT (737732) on how you can support someone affected by abuse and violence
  • don’t judge or make decisions for them
  • Remember that “just leaving” isn’t always a safe option
  • Confront the perpetrator on your own

All of these factors are things you can do to support someone EXCEPT confronting a perpetrator of violence. It can escalate issues and make it more dangerous for everyone including yourself.

It’s always best to reach out for help from professionals in advance if you are wanting to support someone else.

  • 1800RESPECT – 1800 737 732
  • MensLine Australia -1300 78 99 78
  • QLife Australia – 1800 184 527
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
Do First Nations women experience disproportionate rates of domestic and family violence?

First Nations women experience disproportionate rates of violence.

It is important to acknowledge that domestic and family violence is not a traditional part of First Nation cultures.

The intersection of these complex factors with gender inequality means First Nations women experience higher rates and more severe forms of domestic and family violence compared to other women. Compared to other Australian women, First Nations women are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of domestic family violence, and twice as likely to be killed by an abusive partner.

Strategies for addressing family violence in First Nations communities must be led by First Nations people.

What types of things can be included in a domestic and family violence safety plan?

A safety plan is a list of key things that you can do to help improve your safety and the safety of your family.

  • always having a mobile phone with you in case you need to call 000
  • keeping the numbers of your local police station, taxi service, and emergency accommodation on your mobile or in your wallet
  • keep a record of all contact with your current or former partner, including saving text messages, voice mail messages, emails, and social media posts or messages
  • Having an ‘escape plan’ and ’emergency bag’ packed for when you feel unsafe or things get out of control
  • Keeping in contact with a support worker
  • Considering using a non-identifying profile and cover photo, such as a flower or landscape on your social media accounts

All of these things can be part of a safety plan and there are many many more.

A safety plan is thinking about things you can do to be safer when living with violence and abuse.

The best way can to make one is with a local support service but you can also get support with making plan over the phone on 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or via their online chat service www.1800RESPECT.com.au

Where would you go to join others to take action against gender-based violence?

YWCA Australia’s Cyber Feminists (CBF) make diverse feminist voices stronger by engaging in collective online advocacy. The CBF works like an online flash mob, mobilising at critical Advocacy Activation Points (AAPs) to amplify our advocacy and awareness raising priorities. The CBF provides members with opportunities to advocate on key issues relating to gender equality, including things like gender-based violence.

As a CBF member you are sharing social media content at critical AAPs, fostering a safe and supportive online community and informing and creating advocacy content for the CBF… What are you waiting for…?!?

Sign up at: www.ywca.org.au/CBF

YWCA Australia wishes to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands on which we work, live and play and pay our respects to Elders past and present. We recognise First Nations people as the custodians of the lands, seas and skies, with more than 60,000 years of wisdom, connection and relationship in caring for Country.

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