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Letter To Officials - Gaza Conflict And Impact Of Sexual Violence

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, and Leader of the Opposition Chris Hipkins, tēnā korua,

Te Ohaaki A Hine-National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together (TOAH-NNEST) Paetakawaenga is the executive body of Aotearoa New Zealand’s national network of those working to eliminate sexual violence in our country. The Paetakawaenga are writing to you with deep distress over the ongoing conflict in Palestine and Israel, and in particular the ongoing and unacceptable civilian deaths in Gaza.

Given our day-to-day professional experiences of supporting victims of sexual violence, we feel compelled to raise our voices for those in this region currently suffering from the harms of war violence. We call upon the government of New Zealand to add its voice with urgency to those of so many others internationally to demand a ceasefire by all parties and to seek peaceful solutions to the ongoing disputes in that region.

We believe that diplomatic solutions are desperately required and that violence will never solve these disputes. We are extremely concerned about the generational impacts of such violence. Our experiences of supporting victims of violence-related trauma have proven that such trauma has deep and long-lasting negative impacts.

TOAH-NNEST Paetakawaenga abhors all forms of violence and we are deeply concerned at reports of sexual violence occurring in this conflict. Longstanding evidence demonstrates that conflict creates the exact conditions in which sexual violence is able to take place with impunity. We are also concerned about the many vulnerable people, and in particular, children, who are at risk of sexual violence, sale, trafficking, and exploitation, due to the destruction of their homes, disconnection from, or the injury or death of, their protective adult networks.

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Aotearoa New Zealand has a proud tradition of standing bravely against human rights violations and abuses at home and around the world and we call upon you as our representatives to stand up and take that approach in this situation. We call for the return of all hostages and extra-judicially held prisoners.

We call on the New Zealand government to use its voice, actions, and resources to help prevent sexual violence and avoid allowing the creation of further victims during and following this conflict, and to support the healing needs of those harmed.

We appreciate you giving your attention to this matter and keenly look forward to your response.

He maungarongo te whenua, he whakaaro pai ki nga tangata katoa.

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