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Victorian Womens Health Atlas

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Encouraging gender stereotypes isn’t harmless

WHV Letter to the Editor

In response to article: ‘Barbie dolls don’t cause domestic violence’ Crikey, 7 April, 2016.


“The consensus is clear that violence against women is driven by gender inequality. The World Health Organisation, Our Watch (Australia’s national body for prevention of violence against women) and the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence all agree. The current Senate Inquiry provides an opportunity to investigate how the media, entertainment, education and yes, toys, contribute to gender inequality.

No-one is suggesting that playing with trucks will turn a boy into an abuser or that playing with dolls will turn a girl into a victim of domestic violence. But toys, children’s books and films that show boys as leaders, stars and adventurers, and girls as carers, mothers and objects of male desire reinforce gender stereotypes that contribute to a broader culture of sexism and inequality.

It has taken decades, if not centuries, for the issue of domestic violence to be taken seriously in Australia. 18 women have been murdered already in 2016. We should be leaving no stone unturned, not mocking efforts to better understand and respond to this complicated issue."

Rita Butera

Executive Director, Women’s Health Victoria


Published in Crikey, 08/04/2016.