Thursday, 25 November 2010

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women: and a First Person Account

Please go here to find out about and join
The White Ribbon Campaign

I know there are more pertinent stories of violence towards women that can be brought to memory to-day.  I want to tell you this one - because it is about the fear or perception of possible violence.

I was a guest speaker at the Women's Committee of a particular trade union here in Melbourne this week.  This was the regular Women's Committee meeting and my presentation was the last item on the agenda.  This was great because it gave me an opportunity to listen to the voices of these women as they outlined their workplace difficulties and how they might be addressed.  

Sadly, some of these items were hardy perennials.  It is almost three decades since Australia ratified CEDAW, the Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women.  When a country ratifies a United Nations instrument such as CEDAW, it undertakes to give force to such ratification by enacting legislation nationally.  Australia did this with the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.  Since then there has been legislation relating to the Affirmative Action Agency which then morphed into the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency and specific legislation governing that organisation.  

Women's workplace rights are guaranteed by all of this - and still I heard the hardy perennials.  Women having difficulty because they don't have pockets and can't carry handbags to keep sanitary articles.  Women having difficulty in getting to an appropriate place to attend to their personal hygiene.  Women having to campaign to get maternity-style uniforms. long have women been menstruating, how long have women been working through their pregnancy, how long has this legislation been in place?  Some of this is being sorted out through the Women's Committee and a recent, more enlightened management. 

The latest thing which the Women's Committee and their Trade Union are working on is this horrible addition to social media. Now, I know women are not being singled out on in this "cause".  Men are included too.  But at the Women's Committee fear was expressed - fear of people photographing people at work; fear of having details of persons published; fear if someone were to come to one's home.  For women (and for anyone), it is not only the actual violence - it is the expectant fear of violence.

Ticket inspectors may not be welcome - but usually they are only a trouble to those who are without a ticket, don't you think, Networkers?  And if there are problems with the way Ticket inspectors - proper name is Authorised Officer - do their job, there are ways of addressing such matters.  

Authorised Officers have a role in making public transport travel safer.  The training is thorough and they have some entitlements similar to those of Police Officers.  If an Authorised Officer has acted improperly, customers do have recourse.  It may be possible that you can speak to a Senior Station Officer at the railway station nearest you.  However, here is how a complaint can be registered:
To register a complaint contact

  • Metro- 1800 69 63876
  • Yarra Trams - 1800 800 166
  • V/Line - 1800 800 120.
If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the operator, you can

The Facebook campaign is certainly not an effective and equitable way to go.  I will be approaching Facebook to take down this website.  I hope people reading this will add their voices and take time to go to Facebook as well.  To do this, I will be using this Facebook facility.  I hope you will too, Networkers.

Please see the second post below
relating to what the Gillard Govt
says it will do in reducing violence against women

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