There should be no higher priority than the welfare of our women and children, police say. They are backing the White Ribbon campaign in the Cook Islands, to end domestic violence.
As men and women rallied to show their support for the campaign yesterday, police revealed they are called to about 200 domestic issues a year.
That’s a big problem, said counsellor Thomas Wynne.
“People need to think beyond white ribbons, marches and rallies and get to the heart of the way we as Cook Islands men view women, view ourselves and our attitudes towards violence.
“White Ribbon or Ripene Teatea is a cause with a large following around the globe, since its inception in 1991, where men have worn white ribbons as a pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.”
Sadly, he said, Cook Islands were not yet ready to wholeheartedly support a White Ribbon march, because people had not yet come to terms with the fact that there was a problem worth marching for.
The lack of a groundswell of support from men in the community, other than those who work in should be a concern to all. “My question is, how can we gather men to rally in the support of non-violent lives, and especially against women? Because the statistics and the number of men and women I see as a counsellor is alarming.
“Once again we seem to sweep it under this enormous carpet and when there is an opportunity to highlight it, there again is silence. And the silence is deafening.”
Police responded to up to 200 domestic incident call-outs a year, said spokesperson Trevor Pitt. “These broadly involve arguments and disputes over property or relations, noisy and intoxicated family members.”
As for violent incidents, Pitt said these were a much smaller number within the general domestic category.
Assaults against women were subject to the “no drop” policy and police also issued Safety Orders to protect victims – this separated the disputing parties. A Court order was required for stronger protection orders.
Police continued to provide home visits and talk to those experiencing problems. “The healthy wellbeing of the family can be strengthened by us all addressing its problems and the constraints we face from time to time.”