There’s been a campaign running since 1991 called the White Ribbon which seeks to get men to pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.
Very laudable, we’re sure.
Let’s consider the 27 year campaign as an experiment. Is there any evidence it has made a difference?
The Australian version of the campaign publishes selected statistics here. There are a lot of highly-cherry picked data points on that page, feel free to browse them yourself. There is no mention of how these data points have changed over time, however. Which seems an unusual omission if you are requesting generous public donations to a charity that’s had a single purpose for nearly three decades. It’s not unreasonable to ask, “….and how successful has this approach been since 1991?” before handing over a chunk of money.
Fortunately, the source data is linked here at the Government statistics department, the ABS.
Halfway down the page, this gem appears;
Changes in partner violence prevalence rates over time
The proportion of women who experienced partner violence in the previous 12 months has remained relatively stable over the last decade. In 2005, approximately 1.5% of women aged 18 years and over experienced partner violence in the previous 12 months, whilst in 2016 the figure was 1.7%.
Oh, that’s inconvenient. It’s almost as if nearly 30 years of virtue signalling and hectoring of regular law-abiding citizens has had little to no impact to problems in the real world.
Perhaps there’s a clue to be had as to why from the White Ribbon website’s data page;
Statistics show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience high levels of violence and abuse. Family violence among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people impacts on the health and social outcomes of women and children.
Indigenous women are 32x more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence than non-indigenous women.
Wait, what? 32 times more likely to be beaten so severely that hospital treatment is required? That’s a shocking data point by any reasonable measure.
We can argue over the causes of the incredible asymmetry of severe abuse between the indigenous population and everyone else, and perhaps that will be the subject of a further discussion here at another time.
What seems incontrovertible is that White Ribbon Australia’s resources and campaign are incompetently directed. If the charity’s organisers truly wished to reduce serious physical domestic abuse of women, instead of buying hugely expensive TV, radio and internet advertising, running poster campaigns and events in white-collar offices and similar events in major metropolitan centres, it would seem obvious that the resources should be directly-targeted at a particular and easy to identify demographic.
Of course, however noble the original aims of the charity, eventually it becomes a self-sustaining organism.
If this statement seems incorrect, try the following thought experiment; imagine White Ribbon was approached by a pharmaceutical company with a study that suggested they could produce an effective prophylactic with no side effects that could be added, like fluoride for dental health, to the water supply and would immediately prevent men from beating their partners. What would be the response of the charity, do you think?
Well, for a start there would have to be immediate job losses for the full-time staff (who currently account for $2m p.a. of the charity’s operating costs). That’s not going to be popular. Turkeys voting for Christmas, an’ all that. The army of researchers and other hangers on would need to find other sources of income too.
There would also be an end to the need for the following lucrative programme of extortion which, according to the annual accounts, brings in over $2m a year in “fees”;
The White Ribbon Australia Workplace Accreditation Program is our world leading violence-prevention initiative focused on providing organisations with the tools and strategies to actively prevent and effectively respond to violence against women and drive gender equality.
Organisations that demonstrate a commitment to tackling violence against women and meet and exceed 15 criteria across three standards as independently assessed, become accredited as White Ribbon Workplaces.
It’s likely a safe assumption that the current list of accredited organisations is heavily-skewed to those who can pay the fee rather than, say, a liquor store in a town with a large aboriginal population.