Church men encouraged to take the White Ribbon pledge

Yes to respect - No to violence

I have a wife, two daughters and two granddaughters and I want them to live in an environment where they are safe, respected and treated as equals by all people.

As a White Ribbon Ambassador, I look for every opportunity to encourage men to take the White Ribbon pledge: “I will stand up, speak out and act to prevent men’s violence towards women”.

White Ribbon Day (25th November) is the international day for the elimination of men’s violence towards women. White Ribbon aims to end men’s violence towards women by encouraging men to lead by example and talk to other men.

Together we can make a difference and this year I am asking men in the Presbyterian Church men to “stand up” by taking the online pledge and committing to take one or more actions. Take the White Ribbon pledge

The eight actions offer men choices – to listen, reflect, alter their behaviour, talk to others and disrupt negative behaviour – all of which build respectful behaviour that undermines violence. Violence is never a solution.

Most men are not violent and not all domestic violence is perpetrated by men – but 90% of reported domestic violence is. If most men are not violent, then we must ask: “Why is there so much domestic violence in New Zealand?” Our country has the highest rate of reported violence towards women in the developed world.

One reason may be that most men don’t stand-up when they see or hear of domestic violence – they choose to stand by. We are a sporting nation in New Zealand; we know that those who stand by on the sidelines never contribute.

So my message to the men of our Church this White Ribbon month is: “Don’t stand by – stand-up and act!’ Let us take the lead and show all women that they are respected and appreciated as equals.

In 2016, I was nominated to be a White Ribbon Ambassador in New Zealand, and this is a continuation of the Church’s commitment to supporting the White Ribbon campaign. The Church is not prepared to simply standby when we have such a major problem with domestic violence in this nation. By standing up and taking the pledge, holding events to raise awareness, and speaking publicly against violence toward women, we will be standing with the victims of domestic violence and working hard to prevent more women and girls becoming victims.

I am speaking at a number of events this month and participating in some church services, but what thrills me even more is hearing about the various activities and events that parishes are organising to act to prevent men’s violence towards women. If you have a special focus on White Ribbon in your parish or community, please let us know. It would be good to share some of the stories of what people and parishes are doing.

To any men reading this article that are, or have been, violent towards women, let me say that it’s OK to ask for help. As an ambassador I am here to help, not judge or condemn.

I would also like to make myself available to the wider church to try to help overcome this societal problem. Please feel free to invite me to presbytery gatherings or local parishes if this is a topic you would like to focus on.

Ray Coster
White Ribbon Ambassador

Order White Ribbon resources

Assembly Office has a limited number of White Ribbon posters, ribbons and other resources available to parishes free of charge. These will be supplied on a first-come, first-served basis. Email to order some resources.

Facts about family violence in NZ

  • Police investigated 118,910 family violence incidents in 2016 or about one every five minutes
  • That’s 41% of a front line officers’ time
  • One in three women will experience intimate partner violence at some point in their lives
  • Disabled women are nearly twice as likely to be victims of domestic violence
  • It is estimated that less than 20 percent of interpersonal offences by a family member are reported to police
  • 75% of intimate partner violence deaths are perpetrated by men.
  • 50% of intimate partner violence deaths occur at a time of actual or intended separation.
  • Approximately 3,500 convictions are recorded against men each year for assaults on women
  • On average, 14 women a year are killed by their partners or ex-partners
  • Half of all homicides are family violence
  • 20% of young girls and 9% of young boys report unwanted sexual touching or being forced to do sexual things.
  • 24% of women and 6% of men have experienced one or more sexual offences in their lifetime.
  • One in seven young people report being harmed on purpose by an adult at home.
  • Between 2009 and 2015, there were 92 IPV (Intimate partner Violence) deaths. In 98% of death events where there was a recorded history of abuse, women were the primary victim, abused by their male partner.
  • Family violence accounts for half of all reported serious crime