In New Zealand most violence by men against women takes place in the home – with an average of 14 women a year killed by their partners or ex-partners. Each year there are over 3,500 convictions recorded against men for assaults on women and one in five women will experience sexual assault or sexual interference at some point in their lives. White Ribbon came to New Zealand in 2004 and has been driving change in men’s attitudes towards women. Its core tenets are violence towards women is never acceptable, violence is not just physical, that men are part of the solution and that you can help fix this problem. We’ve been proud to help White Ribbon for the last three years.
White Ribbon has developed a high profile, but this year the focus has been on influencing and helping fathers develop their sons’ respectful sexual behaviour, especially in sexual relationships. Fathers are much more likely to talk to their daughters about risks of sexual violence and consent, while sons also need this to strengthen their respectful behaviour. We needed to understand what it is like to be a father, for if we are to connect with and help fathers raise their sons, then we needed to gain insights into what fathers ambitions are for their sons and the pressures the face as fathers in doing so.
The insights we gained informed our thinking. We realised that we needed to speak to fathers ambitions for themselves - as fathers. We then prototyped a range of creative ideas and tested these with the fathers themselves. We wanted to shift away from the prescription that a man must be in charge, only behave in certain ways, and appear tough and get peer endorsement from doing so. We played with language to capture their attention. The aim is to help men at risk of using violence against women by giving them a toolkit and in doing so to give him better relationships, happiness and health.