I’ve said it time and time again, and it is said repeatedly by everyone from the UN, to Australian governments to feminist organisations: the key to ending violence against women lies in cultural change. It is cultural change that will allow us to feel horror at the appalling rates of violence, it is cultural change that will allow us to perceive the problematic behaviours and attitudes creating those statistics and it is cultural change that will teach all of us how to respond effectively and automatically to these problematic behaviours – in other words to carry out our responsibility for preventing violence against women. In 1889, Louisa Lawson wrote on the matter of violence against women: “Will it be believed a hundred years hence that such a state of things existed?” Devastatingly, well over a hundred years later, the question points only too despairingly to how much work remains to be done in challenging a state of affairs she would recognise only too well.
A coalition of services working on the issue of violence against women have established the EVAs (Eliminating Violence Against Women Media Awards) as one response to recognising, encouraging and reinforcing signs of cultural change in the media. It goes without saying that the media play an exceptionally powerful role in either discouraging or encouraging cultural change. Accurate and insightful reporting, accompanied by an awareness of the power structures inherent to any reporting on this issue and the consequences at stake, is a powerful ally to have in the fight against violence against women.
Which is why the EVAs are such an important initiative. Educating the media on the part they have to play in preventing violence against women, on the part they will play (mindful or not, handled deliberately and skilfully or not), on the opportunities that will present themselves, over and over again, to support cultural change, to support the powerless in their struggle against the powerful, to advocate for what is right and necessary, is a vital step to achieving the cultural change we still so desperately need on this issue.
- To see the 2012 EVAs winners, click here
- To read the EVAs guidelines to reporting on Violence Against Women, click here
- To read more about the EVAs and who supports them, click here
- To read Clem Bastow’s GOLD EVA winning piece, click here