[b:464942c3a9]NZ family violence record appals agencies [/b:464942c3a9]

By Stuart Dye

One New Zealander dies every 12 days at the hands of a family member - an "appalling statistic" that must be stamped out, say domestic violence agencies. To mark White Ribbon Day today several organisations are joining to highlight the country's poor family violence record. Last year police fielded more than 45,000 family violence emergency calls, but the agencies say these are overlooked.

Brian Gardner, manager of the National Network of Stopping Violence Services, said deaths around the world were condemned by media every day "while women and children are murdered in our own backyard and they are little mentioned and quickly forgotten". Mr Gardner came from an abusive background and was violent towards several partners until he forced himself to change. He said that change had improved all aspects of his life.

"I have better relationships and I can live without the shame and stress of keeping the violence a secret," Mr Gardner said.

As part of this year's White Ribbon Day, agencies are targeting the two-thirds of men who, according to a 1995 survey, never physically abuse their families. The Chief Commissioner of the Families Commissioner, Dr Rajen Prasad, said those men needed to speak up and challenge attitudes that condoned or tolerated violence.

"Comments and attitudes that reflect acceptance of abusive behaviour, family violence and sexism need to be challenged," said Dr Prasad.

White Ribbon Day is part of the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women - the largest worldwide effort to date. Former All Black Norm Hewitt has backed the calls, saying it was about learning from past generations to break the cycle. Women also had a part to play, he said.

"We need to work together if we are to change attitudes and raise our children to expect equality and non-violence in their relationships."

White Ribbon Day began in Canada and was introduced to New Zealand by the UN Development Fund for Women. Human Rights Commissioner Joy Liddicoat said everyone had a responsibility to end violence in the community.

[b:464942c3a9]DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FACTS[/b:464942c3a9]

* One person dies every 12 1/2 days at the hands of a family member.

* Men are behind 95 per cent of family violence.

* In 2003, 41.5 per cent of murders were domestic violence-related.

* Police received 45,000 emergency calls for family violence last year.