News

Survey reveals ‘disturbing’ views about family violence and gender equality


Evelyn Lewin


30/11/2018 10:01:20 AM

Australians’ knowledge and attitudes towards issues such as violence against women are out of line with women’s experiences, a new survey has found.

The survey found one in three believe rape stems from men ‘not being able to control their need for sex’.
The survey found one in three believe rape stems from men ‘not being able to control their need for sex’.

A major study released today has found a concerning number of Australians hold ‘outdated and harmful’ views about issues such as gender equality and violence against women.
 
The Australians’ attitudes to violence against women and gender equality: The 2017 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (NCAS) is led by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS).
 
It found some improvements in Australians’ attitudes, with Australians more likely to reject violence against women in 2017 than they were in 2013 and 2009.
 
However, the survey also found many people’s knowledge and attitudes towards violence against women ‘are out of step with the evidence and with women’s experiences’.
 
Of note, fewer people are aware that men are more likely than women to use violence in relationships (down 22% since 1995), and that women are more likely to suffer greater physical harm from violence (down 8% since 2009).
 
‘We’re now more likely to understand that violence against women involves more than just physical violence … but we need to put this knowledge into action,’ ANROWS chief executive Dr Heather Nancarrow said.
 
There is also a perception that women’s reporting of violence is to be mistrusted, with 23% of respondents thinking many women ‘exaggerate’ the problem of male violence, and almost half of respondents (42%) thinking it is common for sexual assault accusations to be used ‘as a way of getting back at men’.
 
This runs contrary to the statistics, which show that nine out of ten women who have been sexually assaulted do not report to the police, and that false allegations about sexual assault are rare.
 
‘Despite an increase in the number of high profile cases of sexual violence in the media, such as those involved in the #MeToo movement, it is deeply concerning that so many Australians are still not believing women who come forward with claims of violence and sexual assault,’ Dr Nancarrow said.
 
Concerning violence against women, one in five respondents believe that ‘since women are so sexual in public, it’s not surprising that some men think they can touch women without their permission’, with one in three believing rape results from men ‘not being able to control their need for sex’.
 
Furthermore, 12% of respondents disagree with the question of whether it is unlawful for a man to force his wife to have sex with him, while a further 7% confessed to not knowing the answer.
 
Although research shows nine out of 10 women who have been sexually assaulted knew their assailant, this survey found one in three Australians were unaware a woman is more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone she knows than by a stranger.
 
Meanwhile, 32% said they believe a female victim who does not leave an abusive partner is partly responsible for ongoing abuse, and a staggering 40% said they would not know where to access help for a domestic violence issue.
 
‘There has been a continued decline in the number of people who realise that women are the primary victims of domestic violence, which is ludicrous when we consider that violence against women is still the leading preventable contributor to death and disease in women aged 18–44,’ Jerril Rechter, chief executive of VicHealth CEO, which led the NCAS study in 2009 and 2013, said.
 
‘The physical and mental health impacts of family violence on women and their children is enormous.
 
‘Promoting equal relationships between women and men at every level of our community is integral to reducing the devastating rates of family violence. If we are to make any headway in achieving this, we have to recognise and believe women’s experiences.’
 
Gender equality is another issue where Australians were found to hold outdated views.
 
While the majority agree men and women can play a range of roles regardless of gender, one in seven (14%) think ‘men are more capable in politics and in the workplace’, and around a third (34%) believe ‘it is normal for a man to want to appear in control of his partner in front of his male friends’.
 
The survey used a representative sample of 17,500 Australians aged 16 and over and was conducted via phone interviews. Results showed attitudes were fairly consistent across Australia, regardless of location and socioeconomic status.



domestic violence gender equality violence against women



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