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Speaking out on behalf of our most vulnerable

Hon Pansy Wong
Minister of Women’s Affairs

Associate Minister for Disability Issues

25 November 2009
Media Statement

Speaking out on behalf of our most vulnerable

Women’s Affairs Minister Pansy Wong says White Ribbon Day is a time for New Zealanders to take a stand and speak out against violence towards women.

At today’s launch of the Disability Clothesline project, which highlights the problems of abuse and violence against disabled people, Mrs Wong noted the fact that disabled women were one of the highest at-risk groups for sexual violence – with recent Ministry of Women’s Affairs research revealing a third of all sexual violence victims they interviewed had a psychological or physical disability.

Evidence from Australia also suggests that a person with an intellectual disability is twice as likely to fall victim to personal crime and 10 times more likely to be a victim of sexual assault, which means it is up to all of us to look out for the signs and to speak up.

“While it is sickening to many of us that people could prey on someone with a disability, the reality is that disabled people are often chosen as targets because of communication difficulties and other factors that see them remain silent while the violence continues,” Mrs Wong says.

“To eliminate the scourge that is violence against women, we must protect at-risk groups and ensure that they have the support of their friends, family and the Justice system – which many victims say failed them during their harrowing ordeal.

“Issues like name suppression being given to high-profile offenders, per say, should stop in order for the balance of power to be tipped back into the hands of the victims – who often have to pick up their lives after going through soul-destroying ordeals resulting from domestic and sexual violence.”

ENDS

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