MEN are being encouraged to challenge their mates when they talk about being violent against women.
Anti-domestic violence champion Thangam Debbonaire, from charity Respect, told a rally of people at Gloucester Docks yesterday that non-violent men were the best people to get the message across to their violent friends.
She said: "Non-violent men can be great role models to their mates.
"I'm not saying they sit down and talk at length about it when they are in the pub but it does come up in conversation and they can challenge.
"When that joke about rape comes up, they can say 'hang on, that's not funny, what if that was your daughter or your sister?'"
Thangam was the headline act at the One Billion Rising event, which featured singing and dancing. The worldwide event challenges people to speak up about violence against women and girls.
They claim one in three women in the world will be raped during their life and that 80 per cent of rapists in Britain are known and trusted by their victims.
Domestic violence victim Lisa Boyle, 25, from Stroud, has written and performed her own songs to help her deal with what she went through.
The mum of one said: "I have been helped hugely and I wanted to give something back at an event like this."
Gloucester City Homes backed the event.
Chief executive Ashley Green said: "Only yesterday we had an 80-year-old woman come to us to say that she was homeless because her partner had become abusive.
"Domestic abuse is going on in people's homes and we don't tolerate this sort of behaviour. We have now rehoused this woman and the support is there for others too."
Gloucester city councillor Kate Haigh (L, Matson and Robinswood), one of the organisers of the Gloucester event, said: "I'm here not just as a woman, but as a human being, to say that women should be able to live their lives without fear of violence.
"This day of action is all about being positive rather than downtrodden about the issue."
The event was followed by a SlutWalk in the evening. Women were encouraged to don short skirts and high heels during the protest march across the city centre.
See your Weekend Citizen tomorrow for coverage of the march.