I/N Women’s Day: ‘End the Violence’

Timesup for the Criminal justice system, says support group

A support group for sexual violence survivors is calling on the government to change the criminal justice system for sexual offending.

HELP is using International Women’s Day, tomorrow, March 8, to highlight the need for changes that reduce the trauma of the justice process for survivors.

They want to encourage offenders to take responsibility for their behaviour, and ultimately achieve greater justice.

Kathryn McPhillips, HELP Executive Director, says: “Sexual harassment, abuse and violence ends here.

The time has come for those causing sexual harm to be held to account. Whether that harm is perpetrated in a boardroom, a back alley or a bedroom, it ends now.”

Government must act

However, if New Zealand is going to have any chance of building on global movements such as #metoo and #timesup and improving our appalling sexual violence statistics, we need Government to smooth the routes to accountability for sexual offending,” she says.

McPhillips called for four Government actions:

  • Revisit  the 2012 Law Commission Issues Paper ‘Alternative pre-trial and trial processes: possible reforms.’
  • Move beyond mediation in response to sexual harassment. Any response must take into account the differences in gender and institutional power that breed sexual harassment.
  • Encourage employers to take responsibility for providing a safe environment rather than evading liability when sexual harm has occurred.
  • Fund sufficient community treatment so that it is available for those who harm and those who are harmed – where and when it is needed.

    ‘Government must act’

Many options available

McPhillips said the 2012 Law Commission paper presented many options that would make a difference, particularly moving to judge-led questioning and establishment of a treatment court.

HELP is asking New Zealanders to wear black on International Women’s Day (Thursday, 8 March) to show solidarity against sexual violence.

And, if they are in a position to, upload a picture of themselves wearing black to social media using #togetherinblack. More information can be found at helpauckland.org.nz

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Further information:

New Zealand sexual abuse statistics:

  • It is estimated that by the age of 12, one in four girls will have been sexually abused, mostly with genital contact involved. The estimate increases to one in three by the age of 16.
  • It is estimated that by the age of 16, one in seven boys will have been sexually abused.
  • It is estimated that one in five women has experienced a sexual assault with some women experiencing multiple assaults.
  • Estimates are that one in ten sexual assaults in New Zealand are reported. Of these, three of these go to court, and one of those leads to a conviction. That means that only about 1 in every 100 assaults leads to a conviction.
  • There are experienced sexual abuse or sexual violence agencies around New Zealand who can support survivors and their family and friends. Visit toah-nnest.org.nz or call Rape Crisis on 0800 88 33 00 or HELP on 09623-1700.

The Law Commission’s 2012 Issues Paper can be found at:

http://www.lawcom.govt.nz/sites/default/files/projectAvailableFormats/NZLC%20IP30.pdf

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