Rugby fans ha­rass young girls

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - CA­TRIN OWEN

A young all-fe­male dance group were sex­u­ally ha­rassed by rugby fans be­fore the week­end’s Lions clash against the All Blacks.

HighJinx troupe di­rec­tor Car­lene Ne­wall de Je­sus said her per­form­ers – girls aged be­tween 13 and 16 – were sub­jected to lewd com­ments while per­form­ing be­fore the test se­ries opener at Eden Park on June 24.

Grown men asked the per­form­ers to give lap dances dur­ing the girls’ 90-minute per­for­mance out­side Kings­land train sta­tion, she said.

One 13-year-old girl was asked how much it was ‘‘to get a hand­job’’, she said.

Rugby sup­port­ers also asked the girls to spread their legs wider dur­ing the per­for­mance.

The troupe, a youth com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in ae­rial and ac­ro­batic cir­cus, had been in­vited to per­form by the Kings­land Busi­ness So­ci­ety as part of fan en­ter­tain­ment.

HighJinx were set to per­form again this Satur­day be­fore the test se­ries de­cider at Eden Park.

How­ever, de Je­sus re­ceived an email on Wed­nes­day from the Kings­land Busi­ness So­ci­ety stat­ing due to health and safety reg­u­la­tions the per­for­mance would be can­celled.

De Je­sus, who first wrote about the in­ci­dent in a col­umn for The Spinoff, said that no spe­cific health and safety reg­u­la­tions were cited.

‘‘The big­gest risk for the girls is the things peo­ple are say­ing and not the fact that they’re bal­anc­ing on heads.’’

Most of the ha­rass­ment came from men wear­ing Lions garb, she said.

De Je­sus, who said a range of com­ments were made even be­fore the girls had started per­form­ing, and as artis­tic di­rec­tor she was mind­ful of pre­sent­ing the per­form­ers at the age they were.

‘‘The girls were shocked by the com­ments and didn’t know how to re­act.’’

Over the week­end at the Manny Pac­quiao ver­sus Jeff Horn box­ing fight at Sun­corp Sta­dium in Bris­bane, three Aus­tralian women were sub­jected to a vile, de­grad­ing and sex­ist tirade while try­ing to watch the fight, which was called out over Twit­ter.

Kings­land Busi­ness So­ci­ety chair­man Steve Gil­lett said he was un­aware of the in­ci­dent and said the so­ci­ety’s man­ager Chris­tine Fo­ley was in charge of the en­ter­tain­ment. Fo­ley was un­able to be reached for com­ment.

DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES

Rugby fans asked the per­form­ers to give lap dances and made sex­ual com­ments.

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