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Weighing Up Justice: Rape Awareness Week 2000

Note: There are four media releases contained in this item...Weighing Up Justice: Rape Awareness Week 2000 - Weighing Up Justice: Areas of Law Reform - Rape Crisis supports abortion law reform - Compensation – showing respect for survivors.

Weighing Up Justice: Rape Awareness Week 2000

Whãnau Ahuru Mõwai = Rape Crisis says our justice system is still weighted against sexual abuse survivors in launching Rape Awareness Week.

“Only a third of survivors contacting Rape Crisis ever report to the police. This means there are many offenders who simply get off scott free,” says Claire Benson, National Spokeswoman for Rape Crisis. “Our justice system is based on the principle of deterring people from committing crimes by the fear of being punished. Yet we have a massive group of offenders who never get near the courts.”

This week Rape Crisis workers will be out on the streets raising awareness about the inequities faced by sexual abuse survivors when they enter the New Zealand justice system. As well as law changes, Rape Crisis is calling for a reevaluation of our justice system, an increased focus on prevention and rehabilitation programmes and an evaluation of compensation for survivors.

“We’re asking the Government to look at the Crimes Act and clarify some of the definitions, making clear what consent is and reaffirming that unlawful sexual connection is a crime as serious as rape,” says Ms Benson. “We’re very concerned that indecent assault is not considered a serious violent crime – this does not acknowledge the damaging effects it can have, particularly on children. It also means that offenders convicted of indecent assault may apply to serve their time by home detention and may not be eligible for the rehabilitative programmes in prisons.”


Rape Crisis believe rehabilitation and prevention are vital for reducing sexual violence, but are concerned at the current fragility of funding for community programmes.

“We have heard that there will be funding for this area in the future. However we are concerned that this funding will be diverted from providing services for survivors,” says Ms Benson. “On average, it takes a survivor over 13 years to seek support from us – even if rape and sexual abuse was to stop tomorrow, the survivors will keep on coming through the doors.”

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Media Release 2

Weighing Up Justice: Areas of Law Reform

This week, Whãnau Ahuru Mõwai = Rape Crisis is suggesting areas of law reform to make the justice system more accessible to sexual abuse survivors as part of the rape Awareness Week campaign.

“Only a third of survivors contacting Rape Crisis from 1992-1998 go to the police, and on average it takes a survivor over 13 years to contact us,” says Claire Benson, National Spokeswoman for Rape Crisis. “Our justice system is based on the principle of deterring people from committing crimes by the fear of being punished. Yet we have a massive group of offenders who never get near the courts.”

1986 was a significant year for rape law reform with the new definition of sexual violation being introduced, spousal immunity abolished and the meaning of consent given some clarity.

“At the 1996 Rape Conference some judges suggested further reforms to reduce some of the trauma of court appearances,” says Ms Benson, “We’d like to support those ideas and add some more. In Canada, consent is defined positively, by active assent rather than being defined as dissent by the survivor, as in our law. This would emphasize that sex is a mutual act, and would remove some of the pressure for survivors in court.”

Rape Crisis are concerned that unlawful sexual connection, a crime regarded as seriously as rape in the Crimes Act, has become downgraded with a Court of Appeal decision ruling. Another issue is indecent assault, not regarded as a serious and violent crime.

“Our definition of sexual violation is based on penetration being considered the most injurious, however, indecent assault is a crime that can be just as traumatic – especially for children”, says Ms Benson. “People convicted of indecent assault receive shorter sentences, and may be ineligible for the sex offender programmes in prisons. They can also apply to serve their sentences by home detention, in the very place where many of them offended.”

This week Rape Crisis workers will be raising awareness about the inequities faced by sexual abuse survivors when they enter the New Zealand justice system. Rape Crisis is calling for a reevaluation of our justice system with specific law changes, an increased focus on prevention and rehabilitation programmes and an evaluation of compensation for survivors.

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Media Release 3


Rape Crisis supports abortion law reform

Whãnau Ahuru Mõwai = Rape Crisis is calling on the Government to reform the Contraception, Sterilization and Abortion Act during their Rape Awareness Week campaign.

“Sexual violation that results in pregnancy may be considered but is not grounds in itself for abortion”, says Claire Benson, National Spokeswoman for Rape Crisis. “However it is considered grounds if your attacker is a blood relative or your guardian. This highlights the inequity of our abortion laws and their impact on survivors.”

Rape survivors are generally given contraception as part of their medical treatment. However many survivors don’t come forward. It may take a woman over 13 years on average to approach Rape Crisis, and 2/3 of survivors don’t report to the police.

Rape Crisis is asking the Government to consider general reform of the Abortion, Contraception and Sterilization Act, rather than having sexual violation added as grounds. Rape Crisis emphasizes that the need for survivors to regain control over their bodies and make decisions is part of their healing process. This healing may be jeopardized by the process of obtaining approval for a termination.

“Rape and sexual abuse are crimes which attempt to take away your dignity and self-determination. If you become pregnant as a result of sexual abuse, the system will continue to deny you the right to control your body and you must convince three doctors of the effects of you.” says Ms Benson. “Removing the need for the termination to be approved by two certifying consultants would go some way to alleviating the burden for survivors. But we still need to amend our laws affirming the right of women to control over their bodies.”

This week Rape Crisis workers will be raising awareness about the inequities faced by sexual abuse survivors when they enter the New Zealand justice system. Rape Crisis is calling for a reevaluation of our justice system with specific law changes, an increased focus on prevention and rehabilitation programmes and an evaluation of compensation for survivors.

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Media Release 4


Compensation – showing respect for survivors:
Rape Awareness Week 2000

Whãnau Ahuru Mõwai = Rape Crisis says our justice system is still weighted against sexual abuse survivors, and is calling for compensation to be considered during the Rape Awareness Week campaign.

“Compensation for survivors of sexual abuse now is so paltry and difficult to get that it is more like an insult,” says Claire Benson, National Spokeswoman for Rape Crisis. “How can we expect offenders to show compassion and remorse, when our community doesn’t show acknowledgement and respect for survivors?”

Rape Crisis says the effects of rape and sexual abuse can have profound and long-term effects on survivors, particularly when their attacker is known to them. Almost 90% of survivors contacting Rape Crisis from 1992-1998 were attacked by someone they knew. Lump sum compensation had helped survivors with counselling, or to continue an education interrupted by sexual abuse.

“Lump sum compensation has been replaced with subsidized counselling that has been eroded over the last eight years to 10 initial sessions that must be taken within a 10 week timeframe,” says Ms Benson. “While this may suit bureaucrats, it is may be damaging to the therapeutic process. Survivors need adequate compensation to rehabilitate them beyond the initial crisis.”

“Compensation for all victims of crimes must be considered – as well as rehabilitating survivors, it would also demonstrate our community’s approbation at the crimes committed,” says Ms Benson. “We could begin by calculating the possible costs of introducing compensation.”

This week Rape Crisis workers are out on the streets raising awareness about the inequities faced by sexual abuse survivors when they enter the New Zealand justice system. As well as law changes, Rape Crisis is calling for a reevaluation of our justice system, an increased focus on prevention and rehabilitation programmes and an evaluation of compensation for survivors.

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