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Friday
Mar052010

Respectful relationships or 'boy-bashing'?

Media release from the One in Three Campaign.

Respect is a two-way street – but Wednesday’s announcement of Federal funding from the $9.3 million allocation to “respectful relationship” programs appears designed to target only boys as potential perpetrators of violence in relationships. Yet Australian research shows that girls are as likely to practice dating violence as boys – and that violence by girls towards boys is seen as more acceptable than is violence by boys against girls.

University of Western Sydney researcher Micheal Woods said, “By appearing to focus upon gender as the cause of relationship violence and abuse, these programs ignore the internationally accepted evidence that other causes play a much larger part. The social determinants that can lead to abusive relationships include social disadvantage, drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, and inadequate conflict management and affect regulation skills.”

“The approach behind this campaign is at odds with the Prime Minister’s preference for evidence-based policies – this roll-out of funding appears to support biased gender ideology, not social good. The denigration of boys as belonging to a “violent” gender – and the implicit approval for violence by girls against boys – undermines the intent of reducing violence in relationships,” said Mr Woods.

Melbourne psychologist, Dr Elizabeth Celi, said, “Do we want our young girls thinking that slapping a male friend or boyfriend, throwing objects at him, kicking or scratching him with her nails is OK? Research clearly shows that females as well as males, at school and university age, are violent toward their partners and schoolmates. Why are we staying silent about this issue? Young women saying ‘Stop!’ to their girlfriends slapping or verbally abusing their male friends or boyfriends is just as important a message to teach our kids.”

Anti-violence campaign One in Three spokesperson Greg Andresen said, “Respectful relationships education is an essential part of the school curriculum. However, conflating ‘respectful relationships’ and ‘violence against women’ implies that disrespect in relationships only leads to males abusing females. Why is the government ignoring the 50 per cent of relationships in which girls physically and psychologically abuse their boyfriends? We are concerned that these ‘respectful relationships’ programs are really just boy-bashing exercises in disguise.”

Data released today by One in Three reveals that:

• 21 per cent of physical violence between dating partners of university age during 2005-6 in Australia was perpetrated by females only, 14 per cent by males only and 64.9 per cent was mutual violence (where both partners used violence against each other) [source]

• Young males and females aged 12 to 20 were equally likely to have experienced domestic violence or forced sex by a partner [source]

• Young people were just as likely to have seen Mum hit Dad as they were to have seen Dad hit Mum [source]

• 25 per cent of young people agreed with the statement “When a girl hits a guy it’s really not a big deal.” While males hitting females was seen by virtually all young people surveyed to be unacceptable, it appeared to be quite acceptable for a girl to hit a boy [source]

• Young males were more likely than young females to have experienced bullying, punch-ups between people at school/college, drunken fights in pubs/clubs and racial violence [source]

• Young females were more likely than young males to have experienced rape/sexual assault & ‘bitching’ [source].

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