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A 21-year-old man has been charged with the murder of 20-year-old Massey University student Virginia Ford. The domestic assault took place last Friday after they reportedly had an argument. The two shared a flat in Palmerston North. Massey University are providing counselling and support to their Palmerston North campus as they deal with the shock. At times like these it is important to acknowledge these are not isolated events: domestic violence is one of New Zealand’s most serious social issues with police being called to around 200 domestic violence situations every day. Domestic violence is one of the most insidious forms of violence towards women and victims often face questions like “Why didn’t you just leave?”, and “You must have known he was like that when you met him”. Victim blaming is normalised when these questions are left unaddressed and even expected when women speak up about their experiences. Police estimate that only 18 per cent of domestic assaults are actually reported—a direct consequence of victim blaming and shame culture.
Many intimate relationships come with complexities that we don’t often hear about—sexual pressure, manipulation and psychological abuse are often subtle and progressive forms of domestic abuse. Accepting solidarity is vital—many organisations have been founded based on the fact that this happens far too often. Women’s Refuge offers help to women in all kinds of situations through a multitude of forums. If you don’t feel comfortable enough to go to one of their centres they can be contacted by phone or email.
UN Women have published a simple infographic that highlights the progresses and hurdles that women have faced in the last 20 years. The infographic covers things such as women in parliament, wages, education and gender-based violence. It’s worth a look at – not just because it shows what has been achieved but it highlights the spaces that have been neglected and overlooked such as physical and sexual violence, maternal deaths and education for women in developing and third world countries. The infographic was published as part of the 20th anniversary for the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. This conference is a forum for national leaders to meet, review, and plan for an equal future.