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The Body Shop collects 20,000 signatures

14 March 2006

The Body Shop collects 20,000 signatures to repeal s59

A petition signed by more than 20,000 customers of The Body Shop in support of a Bill to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act will be presented to Parliament by the Bill's sponsor, Green Party Social Development Spokesperson Sue Bradford today.

"I am thrilled to be able to table a petition with the signatures of so many New Zealanders, and would like to thank The Body Shop for their support of the section 59 campaign. The Body Shop - as a hugely popular and environmentally and socially aware business - has been a wonderful ally to have on such an important Bill.

"The fact that so many signatures have been collected just goes to show that ordinary New Zealanders value the message that we need to protect a vulnerable sector of society - children - from serious harm and abuse with the sanction of the law. It also shows that they are not being swayed by the inflammatory message circulated by some the Bill's detractors that we are seeking to undermine parental authority with this Bill," Ms Bradford says.

"We have campaigned on International Human Rights issues for many years, and here was a human rights issue in our own back yard," The Body Shop New Zealand Managing Director Barrie Thomas says.

"It was The Body Shop staff who chose to support this campaign, and their passion for children and their basic human right to protection that led us on this journey. Let's face it, when the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child states that it is 'deeply concerned' with section 59 as it stands, we should be taking action immediately.

"We have had an outstanding response from customers, with over 20,000 signing our petition in just 6 weeks. We did have customers who disagreed, and that's fine too - freedom of speech is a basic human right. But so is protection from physical punishment, and we and the 20,000 signatories would like to see that right guaranteed to our children," Mr Thomas says.

Submissions on Ms Bradford's Bill closed on 28 February, and it will now come before a select committee for consideration before it is put to another vote in the House.

"Given recent supportive comments by Prime Minister Helen Clark, I am very hopeful that the Bill will pass with the support of the Labour Party - and from some MPs from other parties as well - and that we will soon see the end of legally-sanctioned assault against one group in society," Ms Bradford says.


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