Isaac Davison

Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Roast busters: Sexual abuse has nothing to do with dress sense - Minister

Justice Minister Judith Collins. File photo / Mark Mitchell
Justice Minister Judith Collins. File photo / Mark Mitchell

Justice Minister Judith Collins says sexual abuse has nothing to do with the way a woman dresses, and has slammed radio hosts for making this connection.

The minister made the comments after being asked this morning about the Roast Busters case, in which young men in Auckland bragged online about having sex with drunk and underage girls.

"It goes to the wider cultural issues that people are really disgusted, particularly when there are radio hosts who make incredibly stupid and derogatory comments about the way in which young women dress and that somehow that's got something to do with offences against them of a sexual nature.''

RadioLive hosts Willie Jackson and John Tamihere have been taken off the air after comments they made last week to a woman who said she was friends with a victim.

Mrs Collins added: "Fact is, is that women who even cover themselves from head to foot still get abused.

Women who go out to get their mail in the morning fully clothed from head to foot are still raped.

"It's got nothing to do with that, it's got to do with an attitude towards women, that women are there just to be used.''

Asked how she was making changes to address the issues raised by the Roast Busters case, she pointed to proposed changes to the Evidence Act.

Mrs Collins had accepted most of the Law Commission's 33 recommendations for reform of the Act, which would increase protection for complainants in rape cases.

The changes included providing a support person for young complainants when they were giving evidence in court, and giving complainants notice if their previous sexual history was going to be discussed in court.

"It will certainly give some protections to complainants, and of course the previous sexual history can only be used if it's of relevance,'' she said.

A paper containing changes to the evidence rules was expected to go before Cabinet in two weeks.

She stressed that these proposed changes preceded the Roast Busters scandal, and were not a reaction to it.

The Labour Party has suggested a shift to an inquisitorial system for sexual offence cases, which allowed judges to interview victims of sexual crimes, get assistance from specially trained jurors, or come to a verdict without a jury.

Mrs Collins shelved plans for an inquisitorial system last year.

She said this morning: "It's not something that I support because that would in fact involve anyone who's accused of rape essentially having to prove they didn't do it and that would shift the burden of proof, the onus, and I have to say that would be almost impossible for anyone who's accused in those circumstances.''

- NZ Herald

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