Riders’ perspectives on the Ride

For eleven years, White Ribbon Riders have travelled New Zealand every November visiting towns, large and small, to connect with people, share their experiences and help to prevent violence by changing attitudes and showing that a different life is possible. We wanted to connect with a couple of our Riders to get their perspectives on the Ride and share their experiences and reasons for getting involved.

We spoke with White Ribbon Rider (and now also Ambassador) Maurice Tarei who has been regularly involved since 2015 and Simon Garwood who has been involved with local Ride events and activities for some time but undertook his first full Ride last year.

We recently undertook some research into the impact White Ribbon is having on individuals and a significant number of those interviewed highlighted the value of hearing from Riders, who were open and honest, and how that connection helped individuals to commit to change.

One of the reasons Maurice got involved was because of his own background. He is an ex-gang member and when he left that environment he needed some guidance to help rebuild his understanding of healthy whanau relationships. He grew up with some of the unhelpful stereotypes like “men don’t cry” that we have been trying to challenge in the #unspokenrules campaign. Maurice has undergone a metamorphosis and he wants to support others to do the same. He has a lot of empathy for people who find themselves in challenging situations and knows how important it is for them to connect with genuine people that will help to set them on a more positive path. He is especially keen to ensure we are “securing the next generation, that there is a structure inside the school if you need to talk to counselors and things like that.” The fact that Maurice and his wife Mechelle can both go on the Ride and work together sharing their stories is also an important aspect of the Ride for him.

Both Maurice and Simon commented on how strategic the Ride leader Takurua Tawera and other senior Riders are in planning who will speak and ensuring they have the right people for each situation and that those Riders have the time and support necessary to really tailor the message to the specific group they are working with. Maurice also noted the significance of having Riders steeped in Te Reo Maori who have a real strength in that area.

Maurice highlighted the importance of authenticity, “society can be chaotic and young people are looking for role models but they need to be authentic”. Some of the Riders have been through “the school of hard knocks” and in working to change attitudes and behaviours they approach the Ride with good humour and provide support for one another.

Simon commented on the nature of the ride family itself and the way he was fully welcomed and accepted by all the other riders and enjoyed being part of this amazing group of people, who have decided to dedicate a part of their lives to this cause. “I learned so much from each of the other riders, to see some them in front of the various groups, how they interacted, how they touched the hearts and minds of those attending. I was truly humbled by the experience.”

As Simon pointed out: “The Ride is great for getting the message across because from a young person’s point of view, “bikers” for want of a better word come with a certain image and expectation, and for them to turn up at the school or a public event, and speak and share a message that contradicts that image, to show vulnerability and be open. I think that really does work.”

As Simon watched experienced speakers tell their personal stories and weave the messages into them. He noticed “some in the audience in front of you breaking down and reacting to the message being delivered. The riders moved from the stage to those that had obviously been impacted.”

“It’s in these moments that connections are made and the Riders are able to comfort them, and also point them in the right direction for help, by providing them with details of local services in the area that can provide them with the support that they require, knowing we will be moving on.”

“The Riders with more experience can pick out subtler changes in people, and discreetly chat with the individuals so as not to draw attention to them. Some of these members of the public would have been the ones that needed assistance the most, and I was so glad that we had those in the group that have the talent and experience to first spot those people and secondly to be able to connect with them and then help. I was truly struck by how each rider displayed compassion for all those that confided in each of them.”

We are really grateful to both Maurice and Simon for their commitment to spreading the White Ribbon kaupapa through the Ride and for taking the time to share their experiences. To find out more about the Ride please click here.

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#OurHouseRules

White Ribbon has released an online campaign to help prevent family violence and encourage New Zealanders to practice Respectful Relationships.

“In an unprecedented national emergency, everyone in New Zealand has found themselves cooped up inside for the COVID-19 lockdown period”, says White Ribbon Manager Rob McCann. “In any household, ‘cabin fever’ creates tension – but it becomes a huge risk for families with a history of domestic violence, and organisations such as Women’s Refuge and the New Zealand Police are concerned.”

To continue our messaging about Respectful Relationships, White Ribbon have come up with #ourhouserules – simple behaviours to create a safe and happy lockdown for everyone. It creates a platform to talk about positive behaviours in the home, and helps us reach out to vulnerable families.

“There are three sets of images to convey the messages to families,” says Mr McCann. “We will be posting these online and asking our thousands of supporters, White Ribbon Ambassadors and Riders, as well as community organisations and businesses to share them with family, friends and workplaces.”

 

 

Stay at home – but stay connected.
Noho takitahi, engari, tūhono tonu.

There are so many ways we can stay in touch these days – from the classic phone call, a simple txt, to video calls and online games. It’s important that we stay connected, even if we’re in isolation. If you feel like you’re getting overwhelmed or angry – call a mate you trust to vent and talk it through. Give your partner some time out to have a coffee or a cuppa with a mate over a video call. Set up a video call with the kids and their grandparents, cousins or friends. And if you’re concerned about someone in a bad situation, reach out and ask how they’re going. Emergency services and refuges are essential services that are always available, lockdown or not. Contact Women’s Refuge on 0800 733 843 or Shine* on 0508-744-633. If you are in immediate danger, call 111 and ask for the police. If you think you are going to harm a loved one, reach out and call – 0800 HEY BRO.

 

 

Not scared spaces – shared spaces.
Tē wāhi whakamataku, he wāhi manaaki kē

All of us have the right to feel safe, happy and cared for in our own homes. As families, we all get on each other’s nerves – even without a lockdown – but in these challenging times we need to look out for each other and make sure we’re creating positive places to spend time together. As parents, our kids learn their behaviour from us. Be respectful of your partner, be kind to your kids and together let’s create a space where we can say #ourhouserules! If you think you are going to harm a loved one, reach out and call – 0800 HEY BRO.

 

 

Don’t take it out on them – take a walk.
Kia kaua e riri, me hikoi ki te pai

While we’re in lockdown, it’s ok to go outside for fresh air and exercise. As long as we’re staying in our neighbourhood, and sticking to advice about keeping a 2-metre distance between us and others, we’re all good. If you find yourself getting frustrated, let your family know that you need to take a walk. Be respectful too – check how your partner is doing, maybe they could use some fresh air. If the kids need to burn off some energy, take them for a bike around the block. Find ways to get outside and take that time out, but stick to the lockdown rules. If you think you are going to harm a loved one, reach out and call – 0800 HEY BRO.

 

“With everyone confined together, it’s especially important to remind men who struggle to control their emotions that they can choose alternative behaviours,” says Mr McCann. “The focus is on making decisions that create safer and happier environments for our partners and children. We’re encouraging everyone to think about their house rules, and check in with their friends and family to see how they’re doing in these challenging times.”
If you are experiencing family violence contact Women’s Refuge on 0800 733 843 or Shine* on 0508-744-633. If you are in immediate danger, call 111 and ask for the police.

 

White Ribbon promotes respectful relationships to prevent domestic and sexual violence against women.
Respectful relationships are based on:

  • Equality between men and women. Gender equity in personal relationships and all social spheres, reduces violence against women.
  • Flexible gender behaviour for all. Having men breaking out of the Man Box and choosing their own masculine identity prevents the use of violence.
  • Non-violent communication. Men being emotionally aware and expressive gives them alternatives to aggression.
  • Enthusiastic consent for all sexual activities. Having willing participation is crucial to preventing sexual violence.

 

 

 

Toolboxes on Respectful Relationships can be downloaded from here https://whiteribbon.org.nz/toolbox/

Graphics for the #OurHouseRules campaign can be downloaded below

Videos for #OurHouseRules can be downloaded (or shared directly from White Ribbon’s Facebook site)

click on the share button on the top right hand corner of the videos to share to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or via email.

You can also copy the link and past that directly, or you can download the videos. Please share widely.

 

 

Row for Respect

 Last June, Nicola Goss walked away from an abusive relationship that had lasted seven months. She received government-funded counselling including EMDR therapy. She has found the counsellng and therapy very effective and she is really grateful for the support she received.

Nicola decided she wanted to give back and raise awareness of the importance of respect in all aspects of life – respect for partners, family members, work colleagues, teachers, students, teammates, the environment and self-respect. In order to raise awareness and help to prevent others suffering as she did she committed to two physical challenges to raise funds for White Ribbon to assist us in our efforts to prevent violence through challenging unhelpful attitudes and encouraging behavioural change. Respect, especially within relationships, is central to White Ribbon’s kaupapa.

Her fundraising events “Row for Respect” took place in November. The first was a half marathon on the rowing machine which she did on the 2nd of November at her gym in Palmerston North and the second was a full marathon on the rowing machine which she did at the New Zealand Indoor Rowing Championships in Cambridge.

The first event was the 3rd time she had completed a half marathon. Nicola bet her personal best time, set a New Zealand record for her age group (it’s the fastest time recorded for all females) and she is currently the fastest female in the world for this year’s Concept 2 world rankings (1st May 2019 – 30th April 2020).

The full marathon was the first one she had ever done. She got a singlet, t-shirt and information board printed for the event. Nicola noted: “I started well however with 19km to go it became quite challenging, I got a few blisters and I had to stop a number of times to fuel up. I managed to avoid cramp, which I could start to feel coming on – I was super lucky it magically disappeared but I timed my sprint finish a little too late. The marathon was a new experience and there are a lot of lessons to take away from it.”

We are extremely grateful to Nicola for choosing to fundraise for White Ribbon and for committing to raising awareness of the issue of violence in our society and the need for respect to underpin all our relationships. We are delighted she achieved her goals and want to celebrate her success both in rowing and in surviving an abusive relationship.

If you have a great idea to raise awareness in your community or fundraise for White Ribbon please get in touch with us at contact@whiteribbon.org.nz We are happy to provide resources and help to publicise community events.

Trek for Trish

On the 19th of January, two sisters Rosie and Barbara shared memories of their sister Trish Wallis with 60 horse riders and 9 walkers in their “Trek for Trish”, an event created by her friends and family to honour Trish’s life. Trish was murdered by her ex-husband Mike Douthett on the 26th of November 2018.

Horses were Trish’s passion and she took part in the annual Great New Zealand Trek from Cape Reinga to Bluff, her death denying her the chance to complete the 14th and final leg. Some of her friends and family organised the trek in her honour for what would have been her 52nd birthday, so it was a very special day. Her cousin Fred Wallis came all the way from the UK to take part.

At the time she was shot and killed, Trish had recently left her husband and sadly that has repeatedly been proven to be one of the most dangerous times for women in abusive relationships. If you are in danger or you know someone who is, please click here to see a list of organisations that can provide advice and assistance including putting together a safety plan.

The organisers made the event a fundraiser for White Ribbon in the hope that others don’t have to go through what their family did. In the words of Trish’s sister Barbara: “Stand up against control and violence. If you think that someone you know is in a situation then more than likely they are. Ask and talk. Do it without judgement, these people are not weak, in fact the opposite.”

Trish’s sister Rosie Wallis made a video with a personal call to action on preventing violence against women, highlighting the terrible statistics around family harm in New Zealand and ensuring equality and respect for women. Her video can be viewed here.

We know most men are not violent and we need those men to speak out on this issue and challenge other men when they display abusive behavior toward women. We need to undermine the attitudes and behaviours that support violence and instead encourage healthy, respectful relationships.

We are extremely grateful to Trish’s family and friends for raising awareness about the serious issue of violence against women in this country. This violence affects women from all walks of life. We are also very thankful for the funds raised to help us in our efforts to spread that message throughout the wider community.

 

Seeking New White Ribbon Researcher

Last month we mentioned White Ribbon’s Researcher Dr Fiona Shearer has taken up a permanent role elsewhere. We are very sad to farewell Fiona as she was a really valuable member of our small team. As a result, we are now looking for someone new to take on this important role.

While there are occasionally busy periods conducting research and interpreting data, it is predominantly an advisory position. It is a paid position with variable hours and it is a role that can be undertaken from home so if you are currently seeking some additional work please get in touch.

The researcher plays an vital role in educating the Trust and staff on evolving research into best practice regarding violence prevention and ensuring campaign messaging is appropriate and effective. As we are a small team it’s essential that the researcher is a team player, willing to collaborate with others and respond to external enquiries when required.

The ideal candidate will have a thorough understanding of social services in New Zealand and experience developing research questions, conducting interviews and writing reports. It would be helpful if you had well-developed community networks. An understanding of media and communications would also add value.

If you would like to know more, or express interest in this role please contact the White Ribbon Campaign Manager Rob McCann at Rob@whiteribbon.org.nz We look forward to hearing from you.

Essential services functioning during Level 4

Domestic violence sadly will not stop while the country deals with COVID-19. Internationally there have been reports of increased incidences of family harm during these stressful times. If you have concerns about anyone’s wellbeing during this challenging period please contact Shine or Women’s Refuge, which are both classified as essential services, for support. If there is immediate danger please contact 111 and ask for the police.

If you would like to contact Shine please call their Helpline for domestic violence information and support for yourself, or advice about helping someone you know, at 0508-744-633. This number is answered 7 days a week, 9am to 11pm of Women’s Refuge on 0800 733 843 or you can contact your local Refuge here

Women’s Refuge have provided some excellent advice about the impact of COVID-19 on those experiencing violence and tips for providing assistance. They note:

“Some people using violence may use COVID19 to further isolate their partners. The impacts of the pandemic on families and communities do not cause violence, but it can mean abusers have more opportunities to perpetrate and conceal violence. Abusive people might withhold essential items from victims, [use] scare tactics about the virus, or prevent them from seeking help. Victims might feel reluctant to enter Refuges or seek social support if they think it will put their health at risk.” Although their services may look different and they may need to ask health questions, they remain open and able to assist.

If you are worried about a friend or loved one Women’s Refuge suggest:

You can support them by keeping in touch with them. Some people may find it difficult to talk while in isolation if the abusive person is monitoring their devices. You can:

  • Agree on a ‘code word’ in advance with your friend. If they message you that word, you can call the police and ask them to check on them.
  • Ask them if they have the essential things they need (such as food, medication, and sanitary items) and help them to get them. Some abusive people will withhold these items.
  • Help them to feel less isolated by setting up regular times to talk to you and to others.
  • Encourage them to get in touch with Women’s Refuge if they feel unsafe.”

For men who feel like they might harm a loved one or whanau member another valuable service is the Hey Bro helpline: 0800 Hey Bro (439 276) which is staffed 24/7

It is also important to note that the Family Court is still accepting urgent without notice applications for protection and parenting orders, and most family lawyers are set up to work from home to facilitate this. The Family Court have amended the requirements for applications, so that they can be made without requiring people to leave their homes and do not require people to have access to a printer or similar device – lawyers can now go from the initial discussion to filing an application with the Court and Legal Aid without having to meet in person at all.

There is a much larger list of organisations that may be able to assist anyone experiencing violence or concerned about someone else here.

If you are in immediate danger, call 111 and ask for the police.
Leaving a violent relationship can be the most dangerous time for you. Contact an organisation like Women’s Refuge or Shine* to work out a safety plan.
You can contact the following agencies for help.

Pacific Family Violence Support Service Providers in Auckland

Pacific Family Violence Support Service Providers outside Auckland

 

Multicultural White Ribbon Dinner – A Resounding Success!

White Ribbon Ambassadors Vishal Rishi, Inspector Rakesh Naidoo and Raj Bedi

White Ribbon Ambassador Vishal Rishi, who is director of The Asian Network – a pan-Asian organization dedicated to ensuring people of Asian background enjoy optimal quality of life and well-being in New Zealand, worked with two other organisations Sahaayta and Shanti Niwas to organize a White Ribbon dinner in Auckland last November to raise awareness around family violence within Asian communities. He noted “people still do not accept that this is very much present in their communities. Family harm has always been a taboo in ethnic communities, so awareness is lacking in our South Asian community.”

 
While the event highlighted the scale of violence towards women the organisers also sought to provide advice about what to do to prevent violence and how to deal with issues that arise. Two other White Ribbon Ambassadors also took part, Raj Bedi led the group in making the White Ribbon pledge and Inspector Rakesh Naidoo of the New Zealand Police spoke about the prevalence of family violence and urged community leaders to stand up and address the issue. Sr Constable Mandeep Kaur and Dr Ashraf Choudhry also spoke to encourage attendees to speak out and come for advice and assistance when needed. The organisers also chose to honour two members of the local community Barrister Arunjeev Singh and Mr Karnail Singh for their work keeping the community safe and nurturing communities.
The event was a huge success with about 240 people in attendance. We know it can be challenging to get community buy in, especially for ticketed events like this and asked Vishal for any advice he could share with others who may want to organize big community events. He commented “You need to try to include multiple grassroot communities, make it local and relevant to the audience.” We would like to thank all the individuals and organizations involved for the time and energy they put into organizing the event which has made so many people in the community aware of the issues we face and steps they can take to prevent violence.
 
Vishal became a White Ribbon Ambassador in 2018 and has been a great asset to the team, representing White Ribbon at local events and assisting with the campaign advertisements we produced in 2018 in other languages. When asked about his reasons for becoming an Ambassador he remarked: “I put my hand up for this noble cause because I used to feel really bad & helpless when I used to hear about any incident of domestic violence. Not only physical abuse but how husbands/partners treat their better halves. In fact, I hear stories of elder abuse every day. All this made me really upset and frustrated as I work in the public health sector and talk about people’s health & well-being all the time but still, I was unable to help the families who are going through such tough times due to abuse in their families. All this has encouraged me to stand up and stand against violence against women & children”.

If you would like to join the White Ribbon Ambassador team and help to prevent violence in your community find out more here or write to us at contact@whiteribbon.org.nz

National Relationship Manager

Pam Hughes has joined our White Ribbon Team as National Relationship Manager.

Pam’s career as a Senior Manager for over 25 years within the Social Service sector has seen her work closely with many agencies and families. Her most recent position of almost 14 years, was as Regional Director for Community Ministries in The Salvation Army in South Auckland. Prior to this, she has worked in varied senior positions for Ministry of Social Development, Work and Income and NZ Employment service.

During this period, she was a Board member with both Friendship House Trust Manukau and Manukau Beautification Trust.

Pam has a proven and successful record of developing partnerships with both Government and Non-Government agencies for initiatives that support making a difference for families and individuals to achieve their own goals, potential and independence.

She has worked intensively with many agencies and departments within the family violence/harm arena and closely with many victims and perpetrators at every level. This experience will assist White Ribbon as we continue to develop campaign to reach and change men’s behaviour and attitudes.

Pam has supported White Ribbon for many years, helping to create and run the White Ribbon High School Breakfast and Spoken Word competitions while working in the South Auckland community at The Salvation Army. The success of these events has encouraged Pam to look at additional opportunities across the Auckland region.

Her role will also be to seek additional funding support, scope future initiatives, seek collaboration and partnerships for White Ribbon across numerous sectors.

Pam has received various awards over her time within the Social Service sectors, recently including; Influential Champion Recognition from Whaitiaki Charitable Trust for her work supporting whanau, tamariki and rangatahi, and additionally a Certificate of Appreciation from Area Commander Counties Manukau Police in recognition for youth programme delivery and continued work with young people.

Pam’s passion to support young people to make the right decisions in their lives, in particular to promote healthy and respectful relationships is something she will continue to undertake with White Ribbon. Additionally, education for young people, and all those experiencing family harm, including children, will be another area of commitment Pam intends to pursue.

White Ribbon is very excited to have Pam working with us for an initial 12-month period. Her experience within the family harm area, including stopping violence toward women allows us to discuss additional avenues for possible programme delivery and funding for our kaupapa.

White Ribbon would like to acknowledge this position and resource has been made possible by the generosity of a private benefactor, committed to supporting the growth and ongoing work of White Ribbon, for which we are extremely appreciative.

White Ribbon responds to sentencing of Grace Millane’s murderer

A minimum of 17 years for one life. How can we make this better?

 

Today the unnamed man found guilty of murdering Grace Millane was sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of 17.

“One person has been locked away but are New Zealand women any safer?” asks White Ribbon Manager Rob McCann.

“We certainly feel better about ourselves, but in locking away one person we have not addressed the fact that one in three women experience violence from a partner or ex-partner in their lifetime. We have not addressed the unhealthy attitudes towards women that are nurtured by pornography, or the clichéd masculinity that is created when we tell our young men that ‘boys don’t cry’ or to ‘harden up’.”

“We have not addressed the victim blaming which the defence tried to utilise and that those same myths were repeated by sections of our communities.”

White Ribbon Ambassador Mark Longley agrees. “It is great that justice has been done today and the man who murdered Grace will spend a long time behind bars.

“What is a shame though is that in the 12 months after Grace’s murder we saw a higher than average number of women in New Zealand die at the hands of their partner.

The behaviour displayed by the man who killed Grace shocked me. Descriptions of how he smuggled her body out of the hotel, went on a date and he watched pornography hours after killing her were appalling.

I am sure the traits of an abusive personality would have been seen by friends and colleagues, but were likely never challenged.

The death of Grace and the women after her must not be in vain, violence against women, in any form, is wrong and it is up to us men to spread that message.

As men our voice can be incredibly powerful, whether that is just checking in on a mate and asking if he is ok, or uniting to speak out against violence towards women, says Mr Longley.

White Ribbon is adamant that we must learn from the Grace Millane murder.

“If we want to address the violence that killed Grace, we have to look at the causes,” says Mr McCann. We must examine and undermine the attitudes and behaviours that enable the kind of toxic masculinity that drove the killer, and at the same time support healthy masculinity and respectful relationships (which are a protection against violence).

“We see Healthy Masculinity as rejecting unhelpful stereotypes and #unspoken rules about what it is to be a boy or man and replacing those with qualities such as kindness, being empathetic and finding peaceful resolutions to problems.

“Healthy masculinity is about boys and men being confident in who they are, without feeling pressure to be a certain type of boy/man.

“Boys and men can still be ‘brave’, ‘have muscles’, assertive, tough, love rugby, enjoy time with other men and boys, enjoy a ‘pint’ with the lads. But boys and men should also be free to express sad emotions, enjoy cooking, dancing, gardening and anything else that does not fit into rigid gender stereotypes.

“Healthy masculinity is treating everyone with respect and having Respectful Relationships (which always include consent).

“This is what we much teach our boys to ensure they do not buy into the kind of toxic behaviour that encourages men to use violence and disrespect women.

“And when men encounter men that are violent or hold sexist views, they must be encouraged to stand up and call out the bad behaviour.

“These actions will help reduce violence by undermining the attitudes that support violence and by promoting the healthy masculinity that supports Respectful Relationships.”

For more information about how to support Healthy Masculinity go to www.whiteribbon.org.nz

 

The victim-blaming defence (that didn’t work this time)

The sentencing of Grace Millane’s killer to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of  17 years marks the end of a judicial process that can only have been extremely harrowing for her family. They had already experienced the loss of their daughter, literally every parent’s worst nightmare.

White Ribbon Campaign Manager Rob McCann states: “We need to act to prevent other women suffering the same fate. We need to focus on educating our young people about healthy sexual relationships and the meaning of consent. If we do not, they will learn from other sources – their mates or the increasingly violent pornography that is now readily available to anyone with an internet connection irrespective of age.”

A useful resource for understanding and teaching consent is the cup of tea video. https://whiteribbon.org.nz/2015/07/12/consent-explained-with-a-cup-of-tea/

Access to pornography has never been easier and the content regularly features the domination of women. Last year BBC Radio 5 live, commissioned a survey in which it asked 2,002 UK women aged between 18 and 39 if they had experienced various acts during sex.

The majority (59%) had experienced slapping, 38% had experienced choking, 34% had experienced gagging, 20% had experienced spitting and 59% had experienced biting. Almost half of the women (44%) surveyed, said these acts were always wanted.

However, 29% said they were unwanted some of the time, 14% said they were unwanted most of the time, and 10% said they were unwanted every time.[1] A substantial number of respondents felt pressured into these behaviours which suggests their partners lacked a clear understanding of consent. McCann notes: “While this survey was conducted in the UK, there is no reason to believe results would be significantly different in the New Zealand context. In fact, with our intimate partner violence statistics they may be worse.”

The Centre for Women’s Justice in the UK said the figures showed a “growing pressure on young women to consent to violent, dangerous and demeaning acts”, which was “likely to be due to the normalisation of extreme pornography”.[2]

“In December 2018, strangulation became a stand-alone offence,” says Mr McCann “and immediately the number of charges and convictions went through the roof. What we think this indicates is widespread use of strangulation being used not as part of what is known as ‘breath play’, a sexual act that is consented to, but as acts of violence towards women.” As reported by Alison Mau, Women’s Refuge Chief Executive, Dr Anj Jury, said strangulation was so common many victims neglected to even mention it.[3]

This is relevant because Millane’s killer sought to avoid facing the penalty for committing murder by arguing that her death was the result of an accident during consensual rough sex. This is an international issue and there is increasing pressure on Western governments worldwide to ban the so-called “rough sex” defence for murder, which many suggest has evolved from the “she asked for it” defence commonly used in rape trials.

As Canadian commentators have observed: “The “rough sex” defence is not gender neutral. The sex is “rough” for women, not men. “Rough sex” depicted in pornography and in practice is marked by gender asymmetry. It is overwhelmingly women who are on the receiving end of this violence and whose health and very lives are on the line.”[4]

Rob McCann says “In this type of defence, the defendant takes the focus off their own behaviour and encourages discussion of the victim’s prior sexual history and preferences. This is an irrelevant distraction in a murder trial. They use the defence to blame the victim and it is totally unacceptable. There is no way of knowing what the victim wanted or said in this instance, and you simply cannot consent to being murdered.”

“The idea that rough sex could result in accidental death is a fallacy. It takes considerable pressure to strangle someone and if a sexual partner loses consciousness for any reason during sex, the logical response would be stop and check they are ok. While engaging in sadomasochistic behaviours can be a valid choice for consenting adults, it comes with the responsibility to ensure the safety of your partner.”

For more information about how to support Healthy Masculinity go to www.whiteribbon.org.nz

The victim-blaming defence (that didn’t work this time)

White Ribbon Media Release
21 February 2020

 

The victim-blaming defence (that didn’t work this time)

The sentencing of Grace Millane’s killer to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of  17 years marks the end of a judicial process that can only have been extremely harrowing for her family. They had already experienced the loss of their daughter, literally every parent’s worst nightmare.

White Ribbon Campaign Manager Rob McCann states: “We need to act to prevent other women suffering the same fate. We need to focus on educating our young people about healthy sexual relationships and the meaning of consent. If we do not, they will learn from other sources – their mates or the increasingly violent pornography that is now readily available to anyone with an internet connection irrespective of age.”

A useful resource for understanding and teaching consent is the cup of tea video. https://whiteribbon.org.nz/2015/07/12/consent-explained-with-a-cup-of-tea/

Access to pornography has never been easier and the content regularly features the domination of women. Last year BBC Radio 5 live, commissioned a survey in which it asked 2,002 UK women aged between 18 and 39 if they had experienced various acts during sex.

The majority (59%) had experienced slapping, 38% had experienced choking, 34% had experienced gagging, 20% had experienced spitting and 59% had experienced biting. Almost half of the women (44%) surveyed, said these acts were always wanted.

However, 29% said they were unwanted some of the time, 14% said they were unwanted most of the time, and 10% said they were unwanted every time.[1] A substantial number of respondents felt pressured into these behaviours which suggests their partners lacked a clear understanding of consent. McCann notes: “While this survey was conducted in the UK, there is no reason to believe results would be significantly different in the New Zealand context. In fact, with our intimate partner violence statistics they may be worse.”

The Centre for Women’s Justice in the UK said the figures showed a “growing pressure on young women to consent to violent, dangerous and demeaning acts”, which was “likely to be due to the normalisation of extreme pornography”.[2]

“In December 2018, strangulation became a stand-alone offence,” says Mr McCann “and immediately the number of charges and convictions went through the roof. What we think this indicates is widespread use of strangulation being used not as part of what is known as ‘breath play’, a sexual act that is consented to, but as acts of violence towards women.” As reported by Alison Mau, Women’s Refuge Chief Executive, Dr Anj Jury, said strangulation was so common many victims neglected to even mention it.[3]

This is relevant because Millane’s killer sought to avoid facing the penalty for committing murder by arguing that her death was the result of an accident during consensual rough sex. This is an international issue and there is increasing pressure on Western governments worldwide to ban the so-called “rough sex” defence for murder, which many suggest has evolved from the “she asked for it” defence commonly used in rape trials.

As Canadian commentators have observed: “The “rough sex” defence is not gender neutral. The sex is “rough” for women, not men. “Rough sex” depicted in pornography and in practice is marked by gender asymmetry. It is overwhelmingly women who are on the receiving end of this violence and whose health and very lives are on the line.”[4]

Rob McCann says “In this type of defence, the defendant takes the focus off their own behaviour and encourages discussion of the victim’s prior sexual history and preferences. This is an irrelevant distraction in a murder trial. They use the defence to blame the victim and it is totally unacceptable. There is no way of knowing what the victim wanted or said in this instance, and you simply cannot consent to being murdered.”

“The idea that rough sex could result in accidental death is a fallacy. It takes considerable pressure to strangle someone and if a sexual partner loses consciousness for any reason during sex, the logical response would be stop and check they are ok. While engaging in sadomasochistic behaviours can be a valid choice for consenting adults, it comes with the responsibility to ensure the safety of your partner.”

For more information about how to support Healthy Masculinity go to www.whiteribbon.org.nz

 

White Ribbon Media
Nancy Blackler 0272425318 nancy@blackoutmusic.co.nz
Rob McCann 0212122953 rob@whiteribbon.org.nz
Spokespeople Rob McCann, Mark Longley, Richie Hardcore, Anna Campbell, Karlene Jonkers

 

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