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Funding gaps for sexual violence victims hurt human rights

Funding gaps for sexual violence victims a blemish on human rights

Funding gaps and barriers to specialist services means some victims of sexual violence may never recover from the trauma they experience, according to a submission released by the Human Rights Commission today.

The Commission told the Social Services Select Committee it welcomes an Inquiry into the funding of specialist sexual violence social services in New Zealand.

Between 92-95 per cent of sexual violence victims are women and those most at risk are Māori women, young women, women who have been victimised before, and people with disabilities. “This is a sad blemish on New Zealand’s human rights record”, Human Rights Commissioner for Women Dr Jackie Blue said.

In its submission, the Commission highlighted the needs of disabled people who globally are up to three times more likely to be victims of physical and sexual abuse and rape, and have less access to physical and psychological and judicial interventions.

The Commission recommended that specialist sexual violence services need to be fully accessible to disabled people and include funding of workforce development. This includes making New Zealand Sign Language interpreters consistently available to those who need them.

Victims of sexual violence are able to access a variety of assistance through ACC but to receive counseling they need to be diagnosed with a mental injury which could impact on future insurance cover.. “We believe that sexual violence should be understood as an injury in and of itself, and that warrants support including counselling,” said Dr Jackie Blue.

The Commission’s submission was informed by stories shared with the Commission over the past two years and can be found at www.hrc.co.nz.

ENDS

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