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Rape Awareness Week

Rape Awareness Week

Media release May 2012 Rape Awareness Week

In recognition of the end of Rape Awareness Week, Te Ohaakii a Hine-National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together (TOAH-NNEST) states that sexual violence continues to be a major social problem. It costs the economy billions of dollars each year and has a huge toll on the wellbeing of communities, whanau/families and individuals.

A range of studies suggest that sexual violence is widespread in this country. Approximately one in four girls and one in eight boys is likely to experience some form of sexual violence before the age of 16 years. The New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey found that 29 per cent of adult women and nine per cent of men reported sexual violence.

After two decades of inadequate funding, specialist sexual violence services struggle daily to meet the needs of those affected by sexual violence. Up to 99 per cent of sex offenders are not held to account for their actions, because of under-reporting and low conviction rates.

TOAH-NNEST, the national network for specialist sexual violence services represents about 40 organisations and many individuals working in whanau, hapu, iwi and communities throughout the country. The network provides a spectrum of specialist services for sexual violence, including primary prevention, crisis support and longer term treatment. It offers kaupapa Maori and mainstream services, and works with survivors and offenders of all ages and their families/whanau.

Sexual violence is by far the most costly crime per incident, said Dr Kim McGregor, Chairperson of TOAH-NNEST’s Tauiwi Caucus.

Treasury estimated that sexual offending directly cost the New Zealand economy $1.2 billion in 2003-2004. This cost keeps rising with the increasing incidence and reporting of sexual violence as well as population growth, and could now be as high as $7.5 billion a year.

“Long-term social, family and individual impacts of sexual violence are tied up with the economic costs,” Dr McGregor said. “Sexual violence has been linked with many indicators of deprivation and poor health: physical injury, sexually transmitted infections, teenage pregnancy, post-traumatic stress, depression, self-harming, suicidality, increased risks of cancers and other life-threatening diseases.

However sexual violence was among the lowest of reported crimes. “Of every 100 sexual violence crimes, only 10 are likely to be reported to the Police. Three of these are likely to go to court - and only one is likely to result in a conviction.

“These figures suggest that 99 per cent of perpetrators of sexual violence remain in our communities and are able to re-offend without sanction. Those who commit harmful sexual behaviours may be found in every community throughout the country, including in our homes, schools and churches and amongst all population groups.”

Promoting and developing specialist sexual violence services appropriate to Maori is central to TOAH-NNEST’s work. Nga Kaitiaki Mauri, the network’s Maori caucus, focuses on kaupapa and tikanga Maori services which support whanau members to respond to sexual violence and enhance whanau ora.

Sandz Peipi, the Kaitakawaenga of NKM, said recent research had validated this approach. “When communities have services available that are provided from a Maori worldview, with Maori clinical delivery, there’s an opportunity for increased engagement with them.”

Not only Maori communities would benefit from the increased provision of kaupapa Maori services for sexual violence, she said. “We recognise the recent statement that ‘what’s good for Maori is good for all’. We’re promoting the vision that, with the diversity of services developed from a Maori worldview, kaupapa Maori services will become the norm and not the alternative.”

Nga Kaitiaki Mauri takes the opportunity in Rape Awareness Week to acknowledge those who work tirelessly “raising the conversation and challenging the norms of society, to shift thinking and understand the reasons why sexual violence exists, how it exists, and what we can do as Tangata Whenua to support a world where ‘whanau ora for all’ is the priority – and the recognised mechanism to eliminate sexual violence”.


© Scoop Media

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