Men fighting ubiquity of domestic violence

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Men fighting ubiquity of domestic violence

Have you ever degraded a woman or made her feel uncomfortable? Have you ever treated a women inconsiderately and blamed it on her later? Even ordinary men might find it hard to answer “no” to these and similar questions.
The 70 men of Ttalsamo, which is short for “Father’s Group for the Love of Daughters,” contend that treating women in such ways is tantamount to violence. The newly formed group, whose aim is to transform Korea’s patriarchal society into a culture of sexual equality, recently held its first major publicity campaign against mistreatment of women.
Over four days last week, members handed out leaflets to students at Sookmyung Women’s University in central Seoul, visited the Ministry of Gender Equality and stopped in at a Seoul high school, where they preached their message of nonviolence.
Michael Kauffman, a world-renowned Canadian activist in the global war against violence targeting women, traveled to Korea to attend some events.
Ttalsamo members are Korea’s brotherly link to the worldwide White Ribbon Movement.
This campaign was founded in 1991 by a Toronto councilman on the anniversary of the Dec. 6, 1989 “Montreal Massacre,” in which 14 women were killed and 13 injured at the University of Montreal’s school of engineering after a 25-year-old misogynist, who felt his opportunities were being stolen by women, opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle at the school.
A year after the tragedy, some Canadians began to pin white ribbons to their chests as part of an anti-violence campaign. After Mr. Kauffman, who is a professor at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, joined the movement, it spread even further.
Yesterday, and every year on Nov. 25, people in Britain, Spain, the United States, Brazil, Japan and India donned white ribbons to commemorate the Montreal tragedy. Koreans will join the Nov. 25 event in 2004.
By donning a white ribbon, which symbolizes peace, Ttalsamo members pledge not to wield violence of any kind against women, and not to remain silent about it.
Sexual and other violence targeting women is not uncommon in South Korea. For the first 10 months of 2003, 9,533 sex crimes were reported to the National Police Agency. This category includes various forms of harrasment, violence and rape, according to the agency. In 2001, 84.5 percent of all reported domestic violence incidents involved husbands abusing wives.
Early on, Ttalsamo’s members were famous men such as the TV host Kim Byeong-chan. Two years later, most members are ordinary fathers.
Ttalsamo members pledge to pay heed to violence against women, understand why men turn to violence, protest sexually discriminatory language and jokes, fight sexual harassment and violence in the workplace and schools and try to raise sons who espouse peace. The group’s annual social will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Guro-dong Women’s Workforce Center. Call (02) 867-4456 for details.

by Moon Kyung-ran
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