In fact they’ve been sending a strong message for a while; a message that our government supports.
“You can literally get away with rape in this country. If you rape someone, officials will do essentially nothing.”
If you get raped, don’t expect the police to take your attack seriously, even if you’re only 13. Expect to be quizzed about your outfit, how drunk you were and what you did to bring this upon yourself. Expect to be told there is “no evidence”, it’s just “your word against theirs”, because of our outdated justice system. Know that you might not be properly interviewed about your rape for a year by which time important details will be lost. Expect to live with a year of stress and uncertainty, unable to move on or see justice upheld, and know that you’ll probably be one of the 99 rape survivors out of 100 who never see their cases go to court. Remember it’s your responsibility to make sure you don’t get raped, because no one else is going to help prevent it, and officials don’t care.
In this case we are talking about very young girls and that is a heavy, unacceptable burden for them – especially being so young – really it’s an unacceptable burden for anyone.
If we ever needed proof we live in a rape culture we have it. By doing virtually nothing useful to prevent rape, our system essentially faciliates rape and supports rapists. The illegality of rape is pointless if nothing is done to uphold the law. The police seem to be specifically responsible for setting up a roadblock to prosecution. If so few cases see court, they are positioned as the barrier to justice.
In response to the Roast Busters scandal last year we’ve had some money into rape crisis funding and there has been a little pilot program about discussing consent in schools, yeah those things are positive, but we need radical change. The money given wasn’t enough to stop Christchurch Rape Crisis from being shut down this year, who have had to resort to volunteer-initiated support programs that don’t adequately meet the community need. Supporting rape crisis is great, but that isn’t rape prevention at its core. There have been many reviews that have outlined the glaring inadequacies of our police and justice system, but none of the changes recommended by these reviews have been implemented. Why? The government and the police simply choose to ignore us.
Even in this last year we’ve watched as members of the public and officials have shown no comprehension regarding consent, and while one rapist in particular was allowed to flee the country in order to avoid being charged.
You’ll remember the instance of Malaysian diplomat Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail who sexually assaulted Tania Billingsly and was permitted to skip town by Murray McCully and senior members of parliament. They simply didn’t take her seriously or care – at all – about what had occurred and left Tania to be publicly flamed by media. It takes a lot of courage to stand up publicly and talk about a specific attack. In this country most of us can only remember one or two women at best who have dared do so, because it’s usually the survivor who has to bear the shame.
Then we saw The Rock, ZM and other radio stations publish illegally obtained, graphic naked photographs of Jennifer Lawrence. They were immediately alerted to the fact this was an issue of consent, and that Jennifer was taking legal action but they didn’t care. The Rock – specifically – left the photographs up for days in an attempt to gain as much publicity and colaterol out of the photos before releasing a meaningless statement that said the “moment” they became aware of the problem they removed the photos – a lie. The Rock as an organisation are unashamedly embroiled a lad culture – the heart of New Zealand’s rape culture – which does not care about consent, and they are comfortable in their position because it is seen as socially acceptable and “fun”. Many listeners and many in the online community didn’t even get the point that it was a consent issue. They just thought they were having a bit of a laugh, not realising that they were participating in a public “roasting” of a woman, which is exactly what Roast Busters was about.
Then we have Cameron Slater and Jordan Williams who provide the perfect example of entrenched couldn’t-care-less misogynisitic attitudes, we saw those guys talking that casual-lad-talk about how women are only useful for sexual purposes and nothing else.
This is rape culture.
When will our government and police meet the needs of the people? Despite the fact that we marched across the country last year, and the fact that our petition was presented at parliament, and the fact that a specialist commission was created to investigate how things could be better, the requests made at our march have not been met.
We asked that:
– Rape crisis centres would be sustainably funded
– Educational programs on consent would be initiated (there has been a pilot in schools but, this is a broad public health issue that effects people other than teenagers)
– Police put measures in place to adequately support survivors – it is clear they have totally failed at that. A recent media release indicated one of the girls who was attacked was still not interviewed up until a few weeks ago. That is not OK in any instance of rape. Survivors need to be able to move on and have support, it causes so much pressure and distress for them to have such interviews pending and it results in people dropping cases. The police have failed at every point to address this situation, despite knowing about it for two years prior to the story breaking in media they did nothing to protect the public.
– Reinstate the law commission’s report into pretrial and trial support for survivors
In New Zealand people experience sexual assault and rape regularly. It is a national health crisis of epic proportions. You know the stats: 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual violence of some form. Survivors of rape live in a thick syrup of rape culture – a culture that permits rather than preventing rape – and our complaints remain unheard.
Rape can be prevented, it’s time the government did something about it. New Zealand’s laddish, couldn’t-care-less approach to rape needs to end. We all have a right to feel outraged at this response by police and at the ineptitude of this government.