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"Educating our communities and elected officials about the needs of survivors in our local cities and towns requires year round focus. JDI is our pathway to informing and influencing the state and national agenda to end sexual and domestic violence." ~ Karen Cavanaugh, JDI board member and Executive Director of Womanshelter/Companeras, pictured here with a JDI delegation meeting with Congressman Niki Tsongas

White Ribbon Day State House Proclamation

(Boston, MA): In his role as Honorary Chair, Governor Deval Patrick led the 5th Annual Massachusetts White Ribbon Day Governor’s Proclamation Event at the State House on March 1, 2012.   The day is sponsored by Jane Doe Inc., the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, and supported by 65 White Ribbon Day Affiliates across the Commonwealth.

This year’s event comes on the heel of nearly daily reports of rape charges against esteemed college coaches and promising young athletes; the stories of domestic violence among teens and adults that range from verbal abuse to homicide; the stories of victims of clergy sexual abuse, of girls and boys forced into prostitution, of kids committing suicide after being bullied.

Five years ago, the public conversation about men’s role and responsibility in being part of the solution in ending men’s violence against women took a dramatic shift in Massachusetts.  Jane Doe Inc. introduced the Annual Massachusetts White Ribbon Day to both encourage and celebrate men’s leadership in changing the social norms to no longer tolerate or perpetuate sexual and domestic violence.  Today, almost 500 men have signed up as White Ribbon Day Ambassadors and pledged to take this message of respect, equality and safety to the men and boys in their lives.  The impact of this campaign has stretched from local communities to the public policy arena.

Craig Norberg-Bohm, Coordinator of the Men's Initiative at Jane Doe Inc., has spearheaded Massachusetts White Ribbon Day as a way to recognize the unique and critical role that men can and are playing to help end violence against women.  Norberg-Bohm noted, "By speaking up, men are breaking with the social norm of silence on these issues, a silence that in fact is collusion within our institutions and social practices that perpetuate and tolerate violence."

The White Ribbon Day effort is part of a larger prevention strategy at the statewide coalition.  Mary R. Lauby, Executive Director of Jane Doe Inc., explained, "We adopted the international White Ribbon Campaign here in Massachusetts because it is the story of the power and possibility of prevention: the story of men who are tired, outraged, angry, and very frustrated at the level of violence against women and are making a private and public commitment to be part of the solution in ending it."

The 2012 White Ribbon Day Co-Chairs, Angelo McClain, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Children & Families, and Paulo Pinto, MPA, Executive Director, Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers,led a powerful panel of speakers including Governor Deval Patrick, White Ribbon Day Honorary Chair; Lt. Governor Timothy P. Murray; Dan Lebowitz, Sports in Society, Northeastern University; Matt Nicoli, Hanscom Air Force Base Family Advocacy Program, along with students from UMass Amherst and Chelsea High School.

WRD Co-Chair Paulo Pinto, relished his role as Portuguese-speaking standard-bearer for the men’s campaign to end violence against women. As in most population groups, Pinto said, “violence against women has affected our communities for so long. Although headlines often focus on infamous stories such as the “Big Dan’s” tavern rape case in New Bedford during the 1980s and the domestic violence-related murders of two Brazilian women in Massachusetts last fall, many other cases remain hidden or unresolved in Portuguese-speaking areas of the state—partly due to cultural norms that sometimes tacitly allow women to be abused by their spouses and partners.  White Ribbon Day is an opportunity for men in our community to join with all men in speaking up for the women in our families, our workplaces, and our communities.”

“I am honored to join with Jane Doe Inc. and the sexual and domestic violence prevention community in the everyday work to curb, reduce, and eventually eliminate violence against women," said WRD Co-Chair Commissioner McClain. “In being a part of the solution to end violence against women, and all forms of violence within our intimate relationships, we must include in the discussion, thoughts about creating and maintaining healthy relationships. Today represents a commitment from all of us to educate a generation of young men and women who look to us to set examples in work, school, life, and in our relationships.”

Several other events are scheduled for March 1st in cities and towns throughout Massachusetts to help mark Massachusetts White Ribbon Day.

For more information about Massachusetts White Ribbon Day, visit:  www.janedoe.org/whiteribbonday.

To schedule an interview, contact:  Toni Troop, Director of Communications, 617-212-7571 or ttroop@janedoe.org.


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