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Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations’ Global Goals, including goal 5 for gender equality. 1 in 3 Australian women have faced physical or sexual violence by a man since the age of 15, while 1 in 4 has experienced domestic violence by an intimate partner. Join the movement and take action on this issue and more here.

Men who earn less than their women partners are 35% more likely to commit physical and sexual violence against their breadwinning spouse, according to an unparalleled decade-long Australian review. 

The new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal that “as soon as the gender norm is violated” and women bring home over half the couple’s earnings, the likelihood of the man inflicting emotional abuse jumps 20%, the Sydney Morning Herald explains

No increase in any form of abuse on men was reported.

Researchers Robert Breunig and Yinjunjie Zhang from Australian National University say “the gender norm seems to operate consistently across a wide range of demographic characteristics,” with an increase in abuse occurring despite broad age, background and salary disparities.

"As women’s share of household income increases, but remains below one-half, there is no change in the experience of physical and emotional abuse,” said Breunig and Zhang in the report. “Only when the gender norm is violated do we see an increase in the incidence of physical violence and emotional abuse. The gender norm seems to operate consistently across a wide range of demographic characteristics.”

Women across Australia have taken to Twitter to express their disgust at the findings. 

One user wrote, “this has happened to me more than once,” while another said the data was “terrible and not surprising.”

Chief executive of the Annie North Women’s Refuge, Julie Oberin, said it was vital employers not use the findings to justify a reduction in pay increases for women, before commenting on Australia’s deep toxic masculinity crisis. 

"Australia is particularly misogynist and has very clear toxic masculinity, and that’s an issue this research highlights,” she said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “The role of the male breadwinner is so central to masculinity in this country that when it is challenged, you end up in this situation.”

The findings come just days after Australia was ranked 50 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report

The nation’s ranking has fallen six places since last year, which experts labelled as “the worst year for domestic violence that any of us who are in the sector now have ever experienced,” thanks to the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In the same year, a separate report by White Ribbon Australia revealed 42% of young Australian men do not believe punching a partner is domestic violence, while 44% of the same group do not consider non-consensual sexual activity as rape.

If you or anyone you know needs help or advice, please contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 RESPECT for 24/7 support or Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you are in Australia and in immediate danger, call 000.


Demand Equity

Australian Men Who Earn Less Than Their Women Partners Are 35% More Likely to Commit Domestic Violence

By Madeleine Keck