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Women’s Refuge Statement re Julian Savea

Women’s Refuge Statement re Julian Savea

Women’s Refuge is disappointed the New Zealand Rugby Union allowed Julian Savea to play over the weekend despite being charged with assault last week.

“Domestic violence is a serious crime and one of the biggest social problems in New Zealand. When an All Black has been charged with a domestic violence offence, I would have thought the All Black 'brand' would want to act decisively to distance itself from such an action,” says Refuge Chief Executive Heather Henare.

“It should then have come out publically with comments about how dimly it views any criminal offending, including domestic violence.”

Ms Henare asked how Mr Savea's behaviour is different to Zac Guildford’s behaviour earlier this year. “In that instance Mr Guildford hit someone, voluntarily withdrew from a match and had a one month stand down from the Union,” she says, “yet Mr Savea is allowed to play barely five days later and so far, attend an international trip. What does this say about how the NZRFU views domestic violence?”

Ms Henare also made a comparison between the public reaction to the recent assault on Jesse Ryder. “As a nation we were outraged with the crimes against Mr Ryder. Clearly the victim in this instance was a high profile sportsman. But Mr Savea’s partner, her child and her family are also individuals we ought to care about.

“In the case of Julian Savea, we welcome that he has fronted up to assaulting his partner and apologised. This is a good start. I am surprised he was not so distraught by his actions that he did not choose to withdraw from playing rugby over the weekend, especially knowing he was due in Court today. Again this sadly goes towards how society views domestic violence.

“Women’s Refuge is seeing more brutality in the domestic violence we are responding too. We are very concerned about that trend and concerned that women still are reluctant to come forward. High profile sportsmen should not be treated differently than other people who assault their partners or other rugby players who assault members of the public. The NZRU needs to think carefully about the message they are giving about how they view domestic violence and provide consistency on how they deal with these behaviours.”

ENDS

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