GUEST BLOG: What now after Rape protests?



Last week will be one of the more memorable ones for me. I started a petition that gained over 100,000 signatures in a week. Then I collaborated with a spontaneously formed national collective to organise marches across the country.

Thousands flooded onto streets to stand up against rape. For the first time mainstream media sources managed to meaningfully expand upon the idea of rape culture and introduce terms such as “victim blaming” to the collective consciousness. If you’re still not sure what it means, “rape culture” refers to a culture that unwittingly enables and normalises rape. Some say little can be done about it, yet that’s not actually true. Ask Kim McGregor or Louise Nicholas, there are plenty of ways. TOAH-NNEST carried out and delivered a detailed analysis of issues to the government in ’09 and it was almost entirely ignored. Instead more and more money was stripped from survivor support programmes across the country, decreasing general responsiveness.

If you want to know why we are in this position now, that’s at least one good reason why.

People have asked me many times if I was surprised at the response and the answer is “not at all”. I think it reflects the unmet need of our communities. When one in four women and one in eight men are affected by sexual violence in this country – people of colour and transgender people most of all – to me that isn’t just a small social problem, it’s a national health crisis.

As the week progressed the endless barrage of public gaffes got worse; starting with our own Prime Minister telling seeming serial gang rapists to “grow up”, to police saying no one had come forward, then it turned out someone had come forward, and then that turned into four ignored complaints, progressing with victim blaming radio DJs and culminating with Wellington lawyer Keith Jefferies telling a jury that “all she had to do was close her legs” regarding the rape of a woman by now-convicted rapist George Jason Pule. All of this just a few weeks after Central District Superintendent Russell Gibson made the comments in a letter to a rapist’s wife that a 10 year old girl was a “willing party” in her own rape.

Consequently we have heard Police Commissioner Pete Marshall accept that mistakes were made, but he didn’t reckon that reflected any generalised cultural malaise. Well Pete, 100,000 New Zealanders disagree with you, and I’m one of them. Auckland Barrister Catriona MacClennan put it best this week when she wrote the following:

“Here is a list of actions the police could have taken in response to the Roast Busters’ activities:

TDB Recommends

1. Conduct a full investigation, rather than simply monitoring the situation.

2. Contact Facebook and arrange for the page to be removed so the girls did not continue to be re-victimised in cyberspace for two years.

3. Act on the complaint laid by the 13-year-old woman two years ago and lay charges.

4. Have Police Youth Aid visit the boys to warn them about their behaviour and explain the law.

5. Visit the boys’ parents and speak to them.

6. Visit the school and speak to the principal and have him or her speak to students to explain the law and the proper way to treat young women.

7. Publicise the Roast Busters’ activity two years ago to put a stop to it.

8. Meet young women in the local area to warn them about what was happening and teach them to keep themselves safe.

9. Meet the parents of young women.

10. Obtain search warrants and search the boys’ homes to check what evidence there is.

Members of the public do not have the same level of detail as the police about the Roast Busters situation.

But some charges the police could investigate laying are:

• Section 128 Crimes Act 1961 – sexual violation.

• Section 134 Crimes Act 1961 – sexual conduct with young person under 16.

• Section 135 Crimes Act 1961 – indecent assault.

• Section 194 Crimes Act 1961 – assault on a child.

• Section 197 Crimes Act 1961 – disabling (stupefying).

• Section 208 Crimes Act 1961 – detention without consent with intent to have sexual connection.

• Section 216G – making an intimate visual recording (if pictures were taken).

• Section 160 Sale of Liquor Act 1989 – purchasing or acquiring liquor with the intention of supplying it to a person under 18.”

Now I’m no lawyer but as I understand it rape cases are built using corroboration. When a girl is told it’s just her word against theirs and that nothing can be done, that’s not quite true. It is the job of the police to build such cases by conducting a broad spread of interviews, and it can be about how she acted immediately after, who she told, if their stories corroborate hers, and other witness details about people’s movements at the time. It’s not just medical examinations – as useful as they may be. This is a legal, legitimate way of prosecuting such cases.Many of these issues have been identified in reviews of police practises and it’s our job right now to ask why these have not been implemented.

I have to say it: police are people too, they are family members and they are people in our community, and as individuals they have as much need as any of us to see these changes made. So I want to ask police to speak up too. I want them to ask “What can we do better?” and then listen and respond when replies are given. In a country where only one in every ten rape complaints see it to court, if the police do not get with the program here it seems like they are actively enabling rape to proliferate. They become instead of a support service a barrier, that reduces rape reporting and allows attackers to keep attacking. This is a time for contrition and contemplation, not defensiveness.

But I don’t just want to get at the police here. As I mentioned before rape support services have taken such severe cuts that we may remember Wellington Rape Crisis was forced to take PR reparative guilt-money from Hell Pizza who encouraged people to commit sexual assaults for purposes of humour.

Something is seriously wrong here. And that thing, is that we have allowed rape culture to proliferate. Well, no more.

If you haven’t already, sign the petition. If you haven’t already, write to your MP. If you haven’t already, write to John Key.

Talk about this issue, keep it current and let’s ensure they act upon what we have to say. People are desperate for real changes. Next year is election year and it seems remiss of any party to sit on their haunches and not make addressing rape culture a key point of policy. And not just for strategy’s sake, but for people’s sake. For our sake. For their sake.

Some bug bears:

Please use the word “survivor”, not “victim”. It is preferred.

When you say survivors have a responsibility to come forward (or pressure them to do so) remember, that they should only be asked to do so when our services make it easy for them – ideally, those services would be specialised services for dealing with sexual violence. It is a heavy burden for any survivor to bear – while they are trying to recover – that it now their charge to prevent recidivism. I thought that was everyone else’s job. We need to find ways of making the whole thing less re-traumatising for them.

Jessie Hume
Protest Organizer 


  1. Good question- what to do next? Having watched the machinations of the farce which runs the lawmaking process on tv there is little hope to be had from that direction in the immediate future. Having watched the whole rape story worldwide as horror upon horror is dished up faster than you can say big mac one starts to wonder whether this is an effect of mass mind control. After all, beamed onto screens near you (and above, below, beside and behind you) are images of nearly naked female flesh of all ages (yes, TV2,). These images, cut with death and near deathly horror/zombie type sequences are juxtaposed with silky, chill, dub sound, a tool I would call a disconnect (watch C4). Consider the daily hour by hour desensitisation to human suffering you encounter in your daily life. The strange and subtle use of the subliminal butt power to advertise everything from beer to baby wipes. We are all at risk of desensitisation by wrong association. Google a random name and 50% of the time you get some pornstar at the top of the’s like it’s going mainstream…what are we? rats in cages, programmed to reproduce/kill/reproduce/kill..for whom? If this is because there is a profit to be made, reject this mysogynistic crap.

    • Great comment. Instant gratification and the materialization of all things on TV, films and adverts. Are the perpetrators of this outrageous behavior (Roast Busters) totally influenced by the imagery flaunted on our screens and the net? Whilst this in no way excuses them you have to ask what impact this has on what goes through their immature young minds? And why the need to “put it out there” on Facebook for all to see? It is deeply disturbing.

  2. Wonderful effort Jesse – dealing with the issues. Unlike the other conversation going on in the media where male journalists have turned this into a discussion about ‘free speech’.

    • Women recognise Chris Trotter is unwittingly defending misogyny not freedom of speech. Had the original 13yr complainant been a boy, the police would not have asked what he was wearing and would have undertaken at least some of the actions outlined by Jessie Hume. Had the malignant, moronic Roastbusters, targeted13/14 yr old boys, it is inconcievable that the police would have been so unconcerned for so long.

      Had Amy, been the friend of a male victim and an 18 yr male caller, Jackson and Tamihere would not have responded with skepticism and derision and they certainly would not have asked about the caller’s sex life.

      The media uses the term “underage sex,” but women know that if the victims had been semi-conscious, 13yr old boys, the media would call it rape.

      The events of the last week or so have merely highlighted the issue of sexism that women have to deal with in various forms every day. Let us hope now that rape culture dialogue has opened, it stays open and that men pontificating about whether radio shock jocks airing their contempt and distrust of women, is freedom of speech or not, does not cloud the real issue.

  3. Societal dysfunction is hard wired to the Banks who are hard wired into us . Think a column of numbers , like a thick cable , plugged into your brain stem ? Worried yet ? Haha !

    The Banks are ever demanding money from us and The Banks tailor societies to best serve their interests . No pun intended .

    In the meantime , we humans have little , or not time at all , to perform basic maintenance schedules on ourselves . For example , to delve into the mental illness that is self loathing , an oddly Western Culture syndrome which I believe is performance based . ( Or the perceived lack of … ) Or guiding our kids on a safe passage into adult life so as they don’t make terrible mistakes they will have to shoulder for the rest of their lives and which will ultimately mean that they will , more often than not , pass those mistakes on to their kids and so on and son on .

    We have no time for family , friends or holidays in our own beautiful country . We’re left with not many more ways to get joy from our lives than when we unwrap it from the shop .

    We suffer from over-work which is in essence under – reward because time is money . And time per se is what we value most . Ask any terminally ill person what they’d like most . What might their answer be ? You guessed it . More time .
    The Banks have us believing that leisure time is when we go shopping . To spend their money . That they’ve purchased off-shore and that they then must sell to us via retail and dwelling lending ( You can’t call a house with a 500 k mortgage a home . Instead more a time-vampire device . ) . They ‘ live in our world ‘ . They create our world . The rule our world . The destroy our world . They enslave us in our own homes and turn our children into criminals and victims .

    The point of my accusations ? The Banks are making us sick . Physically , mentally and societally . Those whom serve their insatiable appetites are aiding and abetting in our suffering . The money lenders , the money fiddlers , the money fetishists , the financial advisers , investment brokers , the insurance racketeers and the awful , awful real estate ‘ industry ‘ who pimp your time on this earth for their wide screen TV’s and worthless , wanky cars .

    The consequences of all the dysfunction , misinformation , debt related anxiety and a deeply disturbing sense of the Loser mentality brokered by the advertising media to sell Bank Values to us soft , squishy , vulnerable humans is an abomination resulting in violence , abuse and horror .

    Fertile growing fields for a rape culture and of torture and abuse .

    It’s my view that ‘these times’ are of a period in our history where humanity is waging the most abstract and convoluted war of all time . Our enemy is invisible and surrounds us . It’s like a glass warship , only visible by the wake it leaves .

  4. i think there are 3 areas we should be focusing on, as part of future action:

    1. ask hon judith collins to revive the work of the law commission & to action the recommendations of the 2009 report of the taskforce for action on sexual violence. we desperately need changes to the justice system, so that the 90% of victims who currently don’t report what has happened to them are able to come forward.

    2. ask the minister of education to provide funding for an education programme in schools that particularly targets young men and deals with issues of consent, bodily autonomy and respect for women. an organisation like the hamilton abuse intervention project would be ideal in terms of delivering the project.

    3. ask the minister of justice to provide adequate funding for organisations which provide support for rape victims.

  5. Well done Jesse. Through your petition, which I signed, you are keeping this contentious issue out in the open. Thank you.

    I’m not sure what the next move has to be, but it has to come from the police, led by the minister.

    Given the negligence of police in taking serious action against the Roast Busters victims’ complaints and now the latest revelation of complaints of a sexual nature against a serving police officer also being ignored, it seems there needs to be a complete and thorough investigation into general police culture. This must be followed by a clean up of the whole force.

  6. What next?

    1. Another petition to appeal to the Minster for Education to provide proper ethical and social studies in combination with appropriate, effective and sensible sex education (putting an emphasis on “relationship” and respect towards each other);
    2. pickets and leafleting outside police stations where known and convicted police officers, guilty of sexual misconduct or rape used to be based;
    3. pickets and leafleting outside employers who have had managers or staff that have been found guilty of rape or sexual misconduct by staff or management;
    4. meetings with the teaching unions to discuss promoting measures suggested under point 1. above, achieving more numbers of people being involved, supportive and active to bring about change;
    5. approach school principles to do the same as under 4.;
    6. start a petition to the Minister of Justice to bring about changes to the judicial system, which will maintain the adversarial system in general, but bring in special additional measures to support victims to take legal action without unreasonably painful consequences;
    7. lobby broadcasters and the Minister, to cause them to review certain content and presentation of role models, in programs and advertising;
    8. appeal to the Minister for Social Welfare, for them to offer more support for rape and abuse victims help services, like HELP in Auckland (i.e. guaranteeing financing).

    As for your concept of “rape culture”, I strongly suggest a renaming, as the combination of those two words does result in potential misunderstanding about your true message.

    See these links to see what I mean:

    Wikipedia cites this for instance:
    “Hoebel describes culture as an integrated system of learned behavior patterns which are characteristic of the members of a society and which are not a result of biological inheritance.”

    That may come closest to “rape culture” as you may mean it, but it is still misleading and open to misunderstanding and misinterpretation.

    Personally I could live with “rape denial culture” or “rape apology culture”, which seems to exist in certain groups of people and certain individuals. I am struggling to see a justification for “rape culture” as being used as a general concept to describe the actual situation in society as a whole.

    As for Chris Trotter, I fear some have confused his intention to review the way Willie Jackson and John Tamihere were dealt with, with his wrongly perceived views of what happened in the “roast buster” scandal and obvious enough crimes.

    In all honesty I do not think that Chris Trotter is trying to defend a “rape culture” of any sorts, but in that he better be challenged himself directly.

    Best wishes, as I signed your petition on this also, under my proper full name and actual identity.

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