Silence Is Assent: MP Calls For Discussion On Domestic Violence
(By Agnes Loheni, National List MP based in Auckland)
Yesterday I woke to the news that Reuben Paul Peeni was sentenced to life imprisonment for taking a brick and beating his partners head in front of 8 children – 5 of them her own. I cannot quell my rage. And I cannot hold back the tears every time I think of her six year old son trying to protect his mother as she is beaten to death in front of him.
Because as Peeni beat Crystal Lee Selwyn he taunted her in front of her own children. It is a story of horror that surpasses anything we might watch on a movie. It is a story of a real man, a real woman, and real children.
New Zealand, we need to get our priorities right.
Last year 12 women allegedly died at the hands of their partners. Half of all women who are murdered die at the hands of a partner or ex-partner. And to add to the horror, all too often it happens in front of the children.
How is this acceptable? How is it that we let ourselves believe we are powerless to do anything or ‘that it’s not really my problem’?
Well it is our problem. It is my problem.
I am in parliament and I am the spokesperson for small business and for Pacific peoples. And these are important. But these roles become pointless if I have to ‘stay in my lane’. I won’t.
Whatever time remains for me in parliament will be devoted to ending this sickening and horrific cycle of violence perpetrated on women and their children.
I will reach out and work with anyone required to address this. I do not care what your political affiliations are as they are irrelevant to the women who are killed each year at the hands of their partners. I don’t care what the colour of your skin is, whether you are religious or non-religious. If you are a man stand up for the mums, the wives, the daughters, the grand-daughters in your lives and demand accountability of yourselves.
And I’m now challenging men, not least of which my own husband, to stand up and stand against the death of our women. To be the protectors you say you want to be.
I challenge the men to organise the protest march against this death and all these deaths. I challenge our men to flood the streets of Auckland, Hamilton, and Wellington with as many people as have stood for George Floyd.
I challenge the men to take over the organisations that work with intimate partner violence and take this burden off women who should not have to address your violence. It is your problem.
I challenge men to see Crystal as a mother and a woman whose life mattered. I challenge men to rise up against this violence.
Silence is assent tane ma.