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Women’s Debate on Productivity and Domestic Violence

Women’s Debate on Workplace Productivity and Domestic Violence

Story and Images by Francis Cook

Left to right: Alastair Scott, Kelvin Davies, James Shaw, Winston Peters

The Annual Women’s Debate took place on Tuesday evening at the Royal Society of New Zealand. The topic was "the economic impact of domestic violence", following from a recent report and recommendation from economist Suzanne Snively. The debate was presented by the Zonta Club of Wellington, Graduate Women Wellington and the National Council of Women Wellington.

Madeline of VUWSA and Ashley of the VUWSA Women’s Group

All major political parties were represented with the exception of the Maori Party. The panel was made up entirely of male MPs, featuring Greens co-leader James Shaw, Alastair Scott from National, Kelvin Davies of Labour, and New Zealand First leader Rt. Hon Winston Peters.

Deborah Best, James Shaw, and Tom Blackley

Kelvin Davies acknowledged the all-male line-up saying he felt it was a good thing. He said it was time for men to stand up and “take responsibility for domestic violence”. “85% of perpetrators of domestic violence are men, so it’s important we take responsibility,” he said.

Davies argued that ethnicity, religion, and economic status should not be factor in domestic violence – “there is one thing in common with people who commit domestic violence, and that is that they choose to.”

Alastair Scott agreed with Davies, he said that domestic violence comes from a “sense of entitlement”. He said that while we have a low crime rate, violent crime is not falling. “About half the homicide cases in New Zealand are a result of domestic violence,” he said.

The MPs admitted they were raised in happy families. Shaw stated he was raised by two women. “I got double the love,” he said, “but I am aware that that kind of household is not a given, it’s a privilege.”

Shaw said that domestic violence effects the home, the workplace and therefore the economy. He said employers have a part to play in mitigating domestic violence, “it is quite literally their business.”

Peters raised the issue of human trafficking for prostitution in New Zealand and said it is time for the Government to stop ignoring the signs. Women are being brought in on three month visas and abused, he said.

Ethnicity and religion cannot be ignored according to Peters, with certain cultural groups systematically oppressing women. He stressed the importance of manners, “respect for the rights of others should start at the earliest possible age.”

MC Diana Crossan and Suzanne Snively stand with the MPs

Organizers, Queenie Lin, Vanisa Dhiru, Louise Waaka, Christine Cook, Eva Hartshorn-Sanders, Matilde Tayawa


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