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Disturbing attitudes among youth towards violence against women

May 22, 2019 / Our Watch media team

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New research into young people’s attitudes to violence against women shows the need for greater awareness around respect, consent and non-physical forms of abuse, according to Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly.

A  landmark study by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) and VicHealth, found a concerning number of young men aged 16-24, blamed victims of sexual assault.

The report also showed young men failed to understand that non-physical acts, such as emotional abuse and monitoring people without consent, was abusive behaviour.

Ms Kinnersly said it was vital that we address the attitudes that can lead to violence against women, such as condoning violence, disrespect towards women and male peer relations that emphasise aggression.

“The good news is that we know that violence against women is preventable. We can all work together to stop this violence by addressing the disturbing attitudes found in this research.”

“This research found a troubling number of young men held attitudes such as blaming rape victims and believing it’s ok for men to share nude pictures of women without their consent. This is unacceptable and we need to work together across the community, in schools, universities, sporting clubs and other settings to change these attitudes.”

Ms Kinnersly said that by working together to challenge these sexist and disrespectful attitudes, we were helping to create a new normal where men and women are treated with equal respect.

She said one encouraging and important finding from the ANROWS research was that when young people did speak out against disrespect towards women, many people would support them.

“We can all do something as bystanders, to show that this disrespect is not ok.”

Our Watch is the national organisation founded to prevent violence against women. It works to drive nationwide change in the practices, norms and structures that lead to violence against women and their children.

The National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (NCAS) Youth report found nearly a third of young men aged 16-24 years believe many women who’ve said they’d been raped had instead led the man on and then had regrets.

Other key findings included:

  • Around 1 in 7 young Australians believe a man would be justified to force sex if the women initiated it, but then changed her mind and pushed him away.
  • Almost a quarter of young men think women find it flattering to be persistently pursued, even if they aren’t interested.
  • 14% of young men don’t understand that harassment by repeated emails or text messages is domestic violence.

For full details of the research, contact Vic Health: Rachel Murphy, Senior Media Advisor P: 03 9667 1319 M 0435 761 732. E: rmurphy@vichealth.vic.gov.au

Media contact

Our Watch CEO, Patty Kinnersly, is available for interview.

Laurelle Keough, Manager, Media and Communications: 0448 844 930 or media@ourwatch.org.au

If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

To access guides for reporting about violence against women and their children, visit Media Making Change.

Find out more about our work to end violence against women in Australia.

The evidence
Woman holding baby.