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Small Northland town steps up to tackle sex abuse

Small Northland town steps up to tackle sex abuse

The resilient Northland town of Kaikohe is taking the bold step of speaking out on all forms of sexual abuse and sexual violence against its girls, boys and women.

A march up Kaikohe’s main street at 10 am on Thursday 23 July will be followed by an evening public meeting at the local RSA, to explore ways to end sexual abuse within their community. These events roll-out an initial 6-month project.

This local initiative comes on the back of the recent 17-day MASsiVe (Men Against Sexual Violence) hikoi. It is also the result of ongoing collaboration between Stop Demand Foundation and the Kaikohe community.

Kaikohe community leader, Mike Shaw, says, “There are many good men in our community who have remained silent too long. It’s not someone else’s problem, it’s our problem. As men we need to address this hidden hurt that is devastating the lives of our boys, girls and women. These are our sons, our daughters, nephews, nieces and sisters. We have to face it and bring healing to survivors and perpetrators.”

Stop Demand founder Denise Ritchie says, “The community of Kaikohe is showing stunning leadership in declaring that it will no longer tolerate any forms of sexual abuse against women and children.” Ritchie says, “Kaikohe has not been singled out as a small town worse than any others; rather, it is a town that is willing to grab hold of a vision and say ‘yes, we want that for our community’”.

Alex Tango, a local survivor of childhood sexual abuse, challenges her community to “stand up, speak out and take action against sexual violence”.

Stop Demand says government figures show that across New Zealand around three-quarters of victims of sexual assault which result in conviction, are children aged under 17. Denise Ritchie says, “Our mental health systems and our prisons are full of damaged adults who were sexually molested as children. For many victims, childhood sex abuse represents the genocide of childhood. The tragedy, yet also the hope, is that these crimes are preventable. But it needs buy-in of family/whanau to say ‘no more.’”

Agencies and individuals working with both victims/survivors and perpetrators of sexual crimes, form a crucial part of the Kaikohe project.

Stop Demand Foundation calls for action to stop sexual violence, sexual exploitation
and sexual denigration of women and children www.stopdemand.org


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