Dave Andrews

The occupation of Ukrainian towns by Russian troops reminds me of the time I asked a woman what it was like for her as a female to live in a male dominated society, and she told me it was like living under occupation, where women are always under the threat of assault by men.

Sadly the statistics in our society bear out her worst fears – 1 in 3 women (30.5%) has experienced physical violence since the age of 15; 1 in 5 women (18%) has experienced sexual violence since the age of 15; 1 in 3 women (31.1%) has experienced physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by a man they know; and each week in our country a woman is killed by a past or present sexual partner .

On the ABC today Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop reported a story by an older Ukrainian woman from Berestyanka, near Kyiv, who said that Russian soldiers shot her Russian son-in-law when he tried to prevent them from raping his Ukrainian wife. I am heart broken for this woman – and the many many more like her – who are being forced to endure this endless sexual brutality inflicted on them by men. But I am heartened by this courageous husband who was willing to give his life to try to save his wife.

There are those who might mistakenly criticise me for advocating a patriarchal construct of masculinity, but I believe the merit of the traditional role ascribed to men in our culture is that it calls men, all men, at the very least, to respect, support and protect women against anyone who would oppress and exploit them.

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