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Who is the real victim of Samuels affair ?

"Women should be sickened and outraged by the treatment being meted out to the young woman at the centre of the controversy over the Minister of Maori Affairs," National's Women's Affairs spokeswoman Anne Tolley said today.

"In the midst of the media frenzy over the Dover Samuels affair, and the swirling stories and rumours that will inevitably fill the papers over the next week, don't forget the impact on the alleged victim," Ms Tolley said.

Media reports today say the woman has been driven from her home by death threats and abusive reaction from supporters of Mr Samuels.

"In banding around Mr Samuels, before Police have had time to investigate the allegations, his supporters could be doubly victimising a woman who may have already been exploited.

"I am disappointed that The Prime Minister, who has known of these allegations for five months, put the interests of her Government, and of one of her Ministers, ahead of the rights of the young woman at the centre of these events, without ever checking the other side of the story.

"Before dismissing the case in January, I would have expected the Prime Minister, a woman herself, to have at least considered the woman's story, and the obvious effect on her life, whether or not she was below the legal age of consent.

"Any woman will immediately see the imbalance of power in a sexual relationship between a man in his mid-40s and a woman in her mid-teens. Beyond the legalities one has to ask whether she was fully informed of her rights and options when encouraged to undergo an abortion.

"The current attacks on Mr Samuels' alleged victim reek of a 'blame the victim' mentality. I fear that might discourage victims of sexual abuse from coming forward for fear of the repercussions," Anne Tolley said.

Ends

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