As a White Ribbon Ambassador, I’m committed to do what I can to promote the prevention of men’s violence against women, gender equality and respectful relationships.
Last year, I was pleased to see White Ribbon make a strong statement supporting a woman’s right to full control over her reproductive and sexual health. Disappointingly, this statement was removed from the White Ribbon website last week, then quickly reinstated, following public backlash when this news hit the media.
The whole thing has been a real mess.
Because the perpetrators of violence against women are overwhelming men, the White Ribbon model is set up with men as “Ambassadors”. That’s why the subsequent statement that “White Ribbon Australia will undergo an immediate and comprehensive consultation process with our stakeholders” offended so many, who rightly question why a predominantly men’s organisation should be querying a basic human right. I agree. Women’s sexual and reproductive rights are not negotiable.
The White Ribbon statement says: “Sexual and reproductive rights are basic human rights. Denying a woman access to contraception and abortion is a denial of basic rights to health care.” While White Ribbon maintains this position, I’ll continue to support the movement. If they walk away from this, then I will walk away too and resign.
I have written to White Ribbon to make my position clear.
For now though, I don’t want to see the anti-abortion and anti-women’s rights campaigners win by undermining the White Ribbon movement. I believe that this is an organisation that has certainly made mistakes, but which is ultimately comprised of good people who want to make a positive difference to society.