Social media campaign launched following ‘appalling’ rape conviction stats

The National Māori 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 “Whānau violence is not ok”, “Aroha is not abusive” and “Stop. Think. Walk Away”.

Tukaki also indicated the National Māori 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 5,109 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.

Meanwhile, family violence charges have increased by 8 per cent compared to 2019.

More than 31,000 charges were laid for family violence offences in 2020, half of which were for assault.

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 whānau 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 programs 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 underway 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.

In Budget 2019 $47.8 million was committed over four years to both national and community-led prevention approaches for a joint venture of ten government agencies in response to family and sexual violence.

A police spokesperson said family violence was a reality for thousands of families in New Zealand and it was important people were aware of the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship.

“If you suspect someone close to you is a victim of family violence or feel something is not right, it’s okay to act on it – you could save a life.”

“We know there are also people out there who don’t want to harm their loved ones but who are facing an internal struggle. Stay strong: walk away and take a moment so you don’t do something you’ll regret to someone you love.”

Anyone with concerns can call police on 111 with immediate concerns, or on 105 with non-urgent matters.

Information could also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

If you're in danger now:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.

• Run outside and head for where there are other people.

• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.

• Take the children with you.

• Don’t stop to get anything else.

• If you are being abused, remember it’s not your fault. Violence is never okay

Where to go for help or more information:

• Women’s Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 – 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843

• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day – 0508 744 633

• It’s Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450

• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and middle eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584

• Ministry of Justice:

• National Network of Stopping

• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men’s violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent.

How to hide your visit

Where to get help:

• If it’s an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
• If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline Safe to Talk on: 0800 044 334 or text 4334.
• Alternatively contact your local police station
• If you have been abused, remember it’s not your fault.

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