The New Zealand Herald
Campaign launched to prevent violence, rape as stats come out
The National Ma¯ori Authority has launched a nationwide social media campaign following “appalling” figures which reveal rape convictions are at a 10-year low and family violence offences have increased.
“I’ll just say it as I call it, we are a nation of violent partner beaters — and there is no escaping that single truth,” chairman Matthew Tukaki said.
The campaign will focus on drawing people’s attention to the problem with some basic messages that include “wha¯nau violence is not okay”, “Aroha is not abusive” and “Stop. Think. Walk Away”.
Tukaki also indicated the National Ma¯ori Authority was making plans for a national hui.
The latest Ministry of Justice statistics show only 31 per cent of people charged with rape, 89 individuals, were convicted in 2020.
This is the lowest proportion of people convicted in more than 10 years.
Overall in 2020 there were 5109 charges for sexual offences and of these, only 44 per cent were convicted.
These statistics compare with a much higher conviction rate of 77 per cent for overall charges.
Tukaki said the proliferation of family, domestic and sexual violence must end because it created an environment where it became learnt behaviour of tamariki, who often witnessed domestic violence.
“We need to have a long cold reality check that the truth is we are living in a very violent society and with a culture that hides wha¯nau and sexual violence under the carpet.
“We need to rip that carpet out and we need to ensure that everyone is able to speak truth to power.”
The online poster campaign started on Monday and comes amid growing calls from organisations including Women’s Refuge and RespectEd Aotearoa for more investment in prevention-based programmes and campaigns.
Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence Marama Davidson said the statistics reiterated how serious and pervasive the issue is.
“I know that the system hasn’t been working for victims for a long time. We need to improve the system so that people not only know where to go for help, but know how to prevent violence from happening in the first place.”
Davidson said officials were working on delivering a national strategy that will include a public engagement process, which she hoped to announce shortly.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said a work programme was under way to improve the court experience for those affected by sexual violence, including special training for staff and better access to services and support information. The ministry is also working to create a court support role for victims of sexual violence, recognising they are required to recall traumatic events.
The Sexual Violence Legislation Bill, which passed its second reading earlier this year, aims to make the court process less traumatic for complainants. It would introduce a higher threshold before evidence can be used about a complainant’s sexual disposition, reputation or experience, including any sexual history with the accused.