real life

Sickening: A men's rights group has hijacked the "White Ribbon" campaign.

A Texas-based group A Voice for Men has set up a website called WhiteRibbon.org — and is using the site to spread misogynistic propaganda about family violence.

Trigger warning: This post deals with domestic violence and may be triggering for some readers.

By MAMAMIA TEAM

Imagine if a gay-hate group was founded that used the rainbow flag as their emblem; repurposing a symbol of love and equality to spread hate and homophobia instead.

Imagine if a white pride organisation twisted the famous words of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr or Barack Obama to use their inspiration as a tool for racial discrimination, violence and segregation.

Now imagine if a website was established under the name of a famous campaign to end family violence to fund misogynistic propaganda that says violence against women is a myth. That the horrifying statistics around how many women are hurt everyday in their own homes by their own partners – are a lie. That violence against women is more often than not ‘made up’ by mothers trying to stop their partners spending time with their own children.

Except you don’t need to imagine that one. Because it’s true. It’s happening in Australia right now.

There are few causes closer to Australian’s women’s hearts than the White Ribbon campaign to combat violence against women and children. This campaign takes the horrifying statistics of one if three women being the subject of physical violence and one in five women being the subject of sexual assault in her lifetime and says: Men, we can and we must do better.

The wonderful campaign promotes the actions of men as solvers of problems and proves that good men, acting as influencers and ambassadors, are critical to ending violence against women.

And now, one radical hateful ‘men’s rights group’ has appropriated the White Ribbon name for their website, and is, sickeningly, diverting donations intended to help that important cause to something else entirely.

Texas-based group A Voice for Men has set up a website called WhiteRibbon.org — and is using the site to spread misogynistic propaganda and accept donations from site visitors who may have them confused with the White Ribbon Australia campaign website, WhiteRibbon.org.au.

 The White Ribbon Australia website.

The WhiteRibbon.Org website.

Even though intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health in Australian women aged 15-44, A Voice for Men – which is run by a man who once proclaimed October to be “Bash a Violent Bitch Month” – claims that “women are, as often as men, the initiators of violence”.

Ignoring the fact that one woman is killed every week as a result of intimate partner violence in Australia, the group claims that marriage is “unsafe for men and children”.

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Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard is described as a ‘misindrist’

It also describes Julia Gillard as “misandrist”, opposes “feminist governance”, and — unbelievably — has described the original White Ribbon campaign as a “‘Hitler Youth Comes Of Age’ story”.

In other words? This website is run by some people who hold pretty disturbing views but are also very aware of the White Ribbon campaign and deliberately trying to hijack its positive intentions.

White Ribbon US has slammed the website as a “copycat campaign articulating…archaic views and denials about the realities of gender-based violence”.

“Their vile sentiments – which include disparaging comments about women’s shelters and victim blaming survivors of rape – are completely incongruent with our values at White Ribbon,” the organisation’s US executive director Todd Minerson said.

White Ribbon Australia’s marketing and communications manager, Fayssal Sari, told Mamamia the organisation is “very concerned” about the website.

“One of our biggest concerns is that we’ve got over 2000 ambassadors that are men nationally, and what this site does is undermine the work that they do,” he said. “These are good men that are trying to implement social change and gender equality, and that (website) undermines their work.”

He added that he’d been told of at least one incident of a person donating directly to the website, thinking it was White Ribbon Australia. To think that generous Australians are attempting to donate money to a cause they believe in and haven it diverted in essentially the opposite direction, is heartbreaking.

“Any attempt to encourage donation to this bona fide organisation constitutes fraud,” he said. “(The website is) leveraging parts of our brand and obviously the white ribbon itself”.

Mr Sari added that White Ribbon Australia had sought legal advice and had evidence the fake website was possible fraud and IP infringement.

University of Melbourne intellectual property expert Andrew Christie told Fairfax Media the A Voice for Men website “could be in big trouble” for using White Ribbon Australia’s trademarked name – but said taking legal action could be problematic because it is likely based overseas and IP laws rarely cover international websites.

Given their limited legal options, White Ribbon Australia are taking to social media to try and do something about the tarnishing of their name and brand. They are a phenomenal organisation who do so much good work for the Australian community, working to fight back against the horrifying incidence of violence against women in this country.

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We strongly encourage you to get behind their campaign and support a charitable organisation against this outrageous hijacking.

You can support White Ribbon Australia’s social media campaign here.

Meet some of the excellent Australian White Ribbon Day Ambassadors:

If you believe you may be an abusive partner, you can receive help via Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277. If you have experienced, or are at risk of domestic violence or sexual assault, you can receive help by calling 1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732. If you are in immediate danger please call the police on 000.

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