This week, UoA Women in Law are holding a professional clothing drive in support of Women’s Refuge. It’s a chance to unleash your inner Marie Kondo and have a wardrobe clean out for a good cause. If that too–big shirt or those heels you never wear don’t spark joy for you, rest assured they will spark joy for an organisation working hard to end domestic violence.
Slightly outdated pop culture references aside, domestic violence is a serious and pervasive issue.
According to Women’s Refuge, a shocking 33-39% of women experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Perhaps even more sickeningly, this violence is one of the “leading causes of injury and death to women” in New Zealand. In addition to having devastating immediate consequences, the emotional trauma of domestic violence has a lasting psychological effect on its victims. This is the horrifying reality for too many women in our country – a reality we must urgently work to change.
That’s where Women’s Refuge comes in. The organisation acts against domestic violence in a public policy context and at a social level. Working alongside NGOs and other charities, Women’s Refuge produces research which contributes to informed debate, and makes submissions to government. By commenting on policy and encouraging public discussion, it influences change within the legal system. Alongside this, refuges across the country assist women and children who have been impacted by violence.
A combination of psychological, physical and financial manipulation makes it difficult for women to leave violent relationships. Many feel constantly threatened and fear for their own lives, or those of their children. The safe spaces refuges create play a huge part in breaking the systems of coercive control that abuse so often involves. By providing housing and support, refuges empower women to escape these situations.
Refuges depend upon donations of household goods such as furniture, bedding and – you guessed it – clothing. The Women’s Refuge clothing drive aims to help provide our local refuge with resources they need, and raise awareness of the important work they do within the community.
The event reflects the shift in direction Women in Law hopes to achieve this year. Founded in 2016 and formed in response to the Auckland Law School Gender Report, the group has focused on promoting gender equality within the law school and the wider legal profession. This remains an important objective, however, the group now plans to take a more active approach to the legal issues which impact women in our society. Domestic violence is an issue which simply can’t be ignored, and organisations such as Women’s Refuge need our support in their fight against it.
The clothing drive will be held as part of Be The Change week, which brings clubs across the university together in support of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Domestic violence is without a doubt a human rights issue. It’s an issue that has been examined by our very own human rights commission, and one that disproportionately impacts women. In its support of Women’s Refuge, the event aligns with the fifth development goal: gender equality.
As well as supporting the work of Women’s Refuge, the drive aligns with the thirteenth development goal: climate action. Fashion is one of the most polluting industries today. Toxic dyes and chemicals leak into the environment during the manufacturing process, and waste continues to mount as we fervently dispatch old clothes and replace them with the new. Instead of finding their way to landfill, clothes that are donated to the drive will be given a new lease on life. Events which encourage us to think about how our items can be positively re-purposed help to foster an ethos of responsible consumption amongst students.
The Women’s Refuge professional clothing drive will run from the 8th – 12th of April. Donation boxes can be found in Womenspace (in the Student Union building above the quad) and in the Law Café (building 801, to the left of the Davis Law Library). If you’ve got nothing to donate, no problem – cash donations will also be accepted.
Finally, this event is in no way just for law students! Those from all faculties are encouraged to get involved and support this awesome cause.
Like Women in Law on Facebook at: facebook.com/uoawomeninlaw