No, Tony Abbott, marriage does not protect women; Sherele Moody says.
No, Tony Abbott, marriage does not protect women; Sherele Moody says. MICK TSIKAS

Gay marriage cash could save lives of bashed women

TONY Abbott reckons Australia should not legislate for gay marriage because the institution was designed to "protect women and children".

"It is something that evolved many centuries ago to protect women and children in a world where they were much less secure than they are now. That's why I would be very reluctant to change," the former PM told a Sydney radio station early this week.

Marriage "protects women and kids"? Hasn't Tony Abbott heard of domestic violence?

Doesn't he know that one in four Australian women experience intimate partner abuse and some of those people are married?

Has he not realised that, on average, one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in Australia and some of those people are married?

Only a person living under a rock would be blind to that emotional abuse, financial abuse and rape and how they can all be perpetrated in marriage.

No, Tony Abbott, marriage does not protect women. Far from it. A lot of married women are harmed by their husbands in this country and some of them are even murdered.

Marriage between a man and a woman does not "protect" women, but gay marriage can.

In fact, same-sex marriage can make life that much better for thousands of women and children experiencing domestic violence crisis.

How? Drop the plebiscite.

If Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull got the ball rolling on the same-sex marriage legislation, the $160 million plebiscite fund could be redirected to women and children in domestic violence crisis.

At least two-thirds of Australians are keen for same-sex people to wed.

That's more than 16 million people who would rather not see a massive chunk of their hard-earned cash spent on a divisive campaign that will only fuel homophobic rhetoric and increase anti-Christian sentiment.

The Federal Government spends about $160 million a year on domestic violence.

The cost of the plebiscite, in just one year, could double resources to aid survivors and prevent abuse.

It costs about $10 million to establish and operate one domestic violence shelter for four years - so $160 million would pay for 16 of these.

That's 16 extra specialist accommodation centres ensuring survivors have access to safe housing and don't have to live in motels or caravan parks.

About $17.5 million will pay for one domestic violence court - $160 million from the plebiscite would fund nine of these.

The money could also pay for the roll-out of a national domestic violence disclosure scheme, plug legal aid gaps and fund free community legal support for those in domestic violence crisis, we could have more perpetrator programs and we could expand the national rape and domestic violence hotline.

The cash could also go to state governments to help them pay for extra school-based respectful relationship programs, increasing specialist domestic violence police, more school and hospital-based social workers, counsellors and mental health professionals.

Non-for-profits and charities could use grant boosts to install CCTV in the the homes of high-risk victims and new mobile phones, clothing, food, furnishings and other material aid for those made homeless because of abuse.

Australia has a huge problem with domestic violence but it is unable to address the issue because there is not enough money available for those at the frontline of the epidemic.

Organisations dedicated to helping keep women and children safe are barely able to keep up with demand.

Many hold bakesales, raffles and crowd-funding projects to ensure no survivor misses out on support.

Throwing 160 million tax-payer dollars at a public vote that most Australian tax-payers do not want is anything but good governing.

We can only hope that Mr Turnbull, Mr Abbot and the rest of their colleagues come to their senses and direct this cash to services that mean the difference between life and death for domestic violence victims and survivors.

Sherele Moody is a NewsCorp journalist and the founder of The RED HEART Campaign

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