Men seen as key to ending sexual violence

  • 27/07/2014

By Conor Whitten

Figures from the United Nations show New Zealand's rate of sexual violence is one of the highest in the developed world, with the majority of offences committed by men.

But campaigners say Kiwi males have the power to change that and be part of the solution instead of the problem.

"Ultimately, sexual violence is a male problem," says campaigner Richie Steward. "I mean, if we're talking particularly about violence against women and children and other males, males - statistically speaking - are more often than not the perpetrators of that."

It's a topic that some are afraid to address, but Mr Steward is never shy to speak out.

Better known as Richie Hardcore, - a hard rock DJ and former title-winning kickboxer, he's not your typical anti-violence spokesperson.

"We're also the ones that can challenge other men in male-only spaces," he says. "You know, like being in a boxing gym or a kickboxing gym, where I spend a lot of my time… and being able to challenge men in that space is a really important thing."

And Rape Prevention Education says voices like Mr Steward's are vital to the cause.

"We know that it's really important to have men in sexual violence prevention," says executive director Kim McGregor. "Men are part of the solution. Most men are not violent to women and children."

The extent of the problem is difficult to measure, but sexual violence affects large numbers of Kiwis of both genders. Studies suggest up to one in three women and one in 10 men will suffer sexual abuse at some time in their lives.

Those damning statistics were behind a recent campaign to get young people to look out for those around them. The six-week campaign, called Are You That Someone?, used posters and social media to urge bystanders to step in and stop unwanted advances.

And Mr Steward wants men to be the solution, not the cause.

"If I can get one guy who might not necessarily think about the language or the nature of consent, that's something positive that I'm doing in life."

It's a positive stand against sexual violence Mr Steward hopes all Kiwi men can get behind.

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source: newshub archive