Domestic violence could be costing the country up to $3
billion a year and agencies and organisations dealing with
the problem urgently need more funding, the "Stop violence
towards women" rally and concert in Dunedin heard yesterday.
The four-hour event, part of the 21st anniversary of the
international White Ribbon Day which aims to eliminate
violence against women, attracted hundreds of people,
Guest speaker University of Otago faculty of law dean Prof
Mark Henaghan told the crowd there were 90,000 police
callouts to domestic violence every year, but that was
considered to be just 20% of the actual incidence of
"There is no justification for violence against anyone.
"Violence in the house is not an aberration; it's how our
society works; that it's all right to bully, to put women
down," Prof Henaghan said.
He called for recognition of volunteers, highlighting that
50% of Women's Refuge staff were unpaid, and for more
Government funding to help fight violence, the latter being
an unpopular political call because it meant admitting the
extent of the problem.
After his talk, Prof Henaghan said he became involved in the
issue initially through research projects, and subsequent
involvement with Women's Refuge, Barnardos, police and other
Next year he hopes to apply for six-figure funding to conduct
a two- to three-year study into socio-economic factors
affecting women, families and violence, where the law can be
changed, and combine this with findings and data from earlier
Bonnie Scarth, co-ordinator for concert organisers Dunedin
Collaboration Against Family Violence, which liaises with
several dozen groups, organisations and government
departments, was pleased with the turnout for the event, the
first organised in the city on such as big scale.
She said reports of violence were increasing. So too were the
numbers of incidents, with a trend emerging that worsening
economic pressures were to blame.
"The economic gap is widening and that is driving violence up
as people get stressed and find they're not coping," Ms
Scarth said yesterday.
Performers included five bands, poetry readings and high
school Kapa Haka groups.
Several social agencies and entities also ran stalls.