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Violence against women in New Zealand focus of UN Committee

20th July 2012

Violence against women in New Zealand focus of UN Committee

‘Violence against women was a major concern for the UN Committee reviewing the status of women in New Zealand, when it met yesterday’ says Julie Radford-Poupard, one of the non-government representatives at the United Nations this week.

‘Committee members questioned whether current changes in New Zealand such as legal aid restrictions, the introduction of fees in the Family Court, the restructuring of family violence funding, and a trend towards encouraging the resolution of relationship disputes out of court, may be increasing the barriers for women seeking to leave violent relationships and risking their safety’ says Ms Radford-Poupard.

‘Committee members also questioned the government on the lack of progress in implementing the recommendations from the report of the Taskforce for Action on Sexual Violence. The report has called for changes to New Zealand legislation to reduce stress and trauma faced by complainants in the criminal justice system’, says Julie Radford-Poupard.

‘Hon. Minister of Women’s Affairs Jo Goodhew was also challenged by a committee member, Ms Halperin-Kaddari, of Israel, on the way she talked about sexual and domestic violence as she presented New Zealand’s seventh report to the United Nations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Ms Halperin-Kaddari expressed her concern that the Minister appeared not to acknowledge the gendered dynamics of domestic and sexual violence in her choice language. Ms Halperin-Kaddari also stressed that it was important not to shy away from a ‘very gender specific problem’ and warned that camouflaging that fact would cause further risks for women’, says Julie Radford-Poupard.

The CEDAW Committee report on New Zealand will be out in the next month.

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