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Home Invasion Bill Fatally Flawed - Rape Crisis

Rape Crisis National Spokesperson Claire Benson has criticised the government's new home invasion legislation, saying it sends mixed messages to both criminals and the community.

The Crimes (Home Invasion) Amendment Bill was passed in the House yesterday afternoon by 62 votes to 58. The Bill provides for longer sentences for uninvited people who commit violent crime in other peoples' homes.

Claire Benson said Rape Crisis was disappointed but not surprised the Bill was passed.

"This Bill is flawed in that a father who has been raping his daughter over a period of 10 years can expect a lesser sentence from a stranger who breaks into a home and commits a rape, simply because the father is not a stranger to the victim and has a legal right to be in the house."

Benson said the Bill created artificial distinctions between crimes and supported the myth that stranger crime was more serious than most violent crime which occurred in the house by a person known to the victim.

"What this Bill says is that domestic violence is less serious than violence from a stranger," she said. "It sends mixed and quite wrong messages to criminals and the community."

However Justice Minister, Tony Ryall has maintained that by "enshrining the sanctuary of the home" the Bill represents the views of New Zealanders who are sickened by ‘home invasion’ style crimes.

Mr Ryall said this does not mean they treat other crime less seriously and has pointed to the increase in sentences for rape during National's time in office.

Benson said the new legislation would not act as a deterrent and would quite likely result in more deaths as intruders would now consider killing their victims to avoid going to jail for longer periods.

"We put the passing of this Bill down to election fever," she said.

"On the one hand the government support this incredibly flawed bill yet in the same week they vote down Matt Robson's Bill seeking to control the use of firearms.

"The government are sending out very confused messages. They seem to be saying 'have all the guns you like and use them for whatever you like, but don't break into somebody else's house,'" said Benson.


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