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Wellington Rape Crisis statement on Roastbusters and police

Wellington Rape Crisis: behaviour of Auckland teen rape group is abhorrent; media coverage blames the victims; and Police actions are unacceptable

Key points
Behaviour of Auckland teen rape group is abhorrent
Much of the media coverage has been appalling and is harmful for survivors
John Tamihere and Willie Jackson should resign for their victim-blaming comments
Media outlets clearly need training on sexual violence and rape culture
Better funding nationally for prevention and awareness programmes is needed and could have prevented these sexual assaults in the first place
Police need to take immediate action
The Law Commission report into pre-trial and trial processes for sexual assault victims needs to be reinstated immediately
Wellington Rape Crisis expresses its deep sadness to the survivors of the rapes by this group of men, and all survivors

Wellington Rape Crisis (WRC) has been overwhelmed with messages of outrage from members of the public about the group of Auckland rapists calling themselves ‘Roast Busters’, as well as about subsequent media coverage. Concern for survivors of these rapes has also been tremendous.

Agency Manager Natalie Gousmett says, “This whole situation is horrific. First we have the abhorrent behaviour of the members of the rape group, causing serious harm to the victims they have targeted. Then we have appalling coverage by media, including extreme victim-blaming and today we have heard the Police have indeed had complaints yet have only just started taking action now.”

“All of this demonstrates the rape culture in NZ, which is extremely harmful to survivors.”

“When victims are told they are at fault for being raped they are less likely to access support. For radio hosts such as John Tamihere and Willie Jackson to express these views on Radio Live is absolutely horrific,” says Gousmett. “They should both resign for this.”

WRC would also like to see other media outlets not asking about the behaviour of the survivors, through questions such as ‘Should she have been drinking?’ and ‘What was she wearing?’ The focus must be on the behaviour of the rapists: rape is never caused by the victim. WRC is part of a rape and sexual abuse prevention collaboration (the Sexual Abuse Prevention Network), which provides prevention programmes for young people, adults and hospitality staff, teaching ethical decision making, skills for negotiating consent, and ethical bystander skills.

“Unfortunately this work is currently underfunded, but we would like to be able to extend our reach to many more young people and also to individuals and organisations in the media who currently lack understanding of the dynamics of sexual violence,” says Gousmett. “These programmes could have prevented the formation of this despicable rape group in the first place.”

“We would also like the Police to take immediate action against this group. It is completely unacceptable that this group has been allowed to continue their criminal behaviour for so long. WRC supports calls for an independent inquiry into Police handling of the case so far.

WRC also believes that there needs to be significant changes to the way the criminal justice system treats survivors of rape and sexual abuse in New Zealand, which may make it easier for survivors to see justice and more likely for Police to recommend a criminal case. Earlier this year the Law Commission’s review of pre-trial and trial processes for sexual assault victims received 541 submissions, yet in September 2012 the Minister of Justice put the Law Commission’s report on this on hold indefinitely.

“Finally, WRC would like to express our deep sadness over the horrific trauma the survivors of these rapes have had to endure, at the time of the rapes, as a result of Police inaction, and through the continued appalling media coverage of this situation.”

“To all other survivors having to hear victims being blamed and rapists being excused and defended in the mainstream and social media; we are here if you need support. Arohanui from all of us at WRC.”

ENDS

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