Roast Busters: Protests today aim to 'bust rape culture'

By Brendan Manning

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Thousands of protesters throughout the country have taken part in a series of synchronised protests today aiming to "bust rape culture".

The protesters are campaigning for:
• Rape crisis centres to be adequately and sustainably funded
• Educational programmes set up focussing on rape prevention and awareness
• Police to put measures in place to allow for better support of survivors
• The Law Commission report into pre-trial and trial processes for sexual assault victims to be reinstated immediately.

Actor Sam Bunkall, better known as Boyd off Shortland Street, said he came to the march in conjunction with the work he does with the Rape Prevention Education organisation.

He said he was in two minds about the exposure the Roast Busters gang had created for rape awareness.

"One is that the exposure as a general thing has been great because people are finally starting to talk about it, and that's the issue with sexual violence - is that it's traditionally something that people don't talk about it.''

The shift from victim blaming to focussing on the perpetrators was great, Mr Bunkall said. "We don't see that a lot.''

However, there seemed to be a lot of backlash targeted specifically at the Roast Busters for the wider issue, he said.

"My issue is that you have these people calling for their heads and `they need to go to prison' and it's like, sweet, put them in prison....it doesn't solve the problem."

"What solves the problem is we need to look at the bigger picture and why that happened, why did Roast Busters [happen]."

"You look around at how much advertising objectifies women, the prevailing attitudes towards victim blaming and you can start to see how attitudes like this [exist].''

Auckland mother Jessie Hume was one of the organisers of the protests - held in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

Ms Hume said she organised the protests in conjunction with a group of young girls behind an anti-Roast Busters Facebook page.

"It was very much an organic thing, people just stood up and said `I can do this' `I can do this' and we all just worked together.''

Mt Albert MP David Shearer said the march was a useful way of demonstrating people didn't like the kind of culture that had slipped into New Zealand society.

"I've come along with my wife and daughter. I was pretty shocked by the last few weeks."

"As a father, I'm also very surprised that the police weren't able to do anything about it as they went along.''

-- Online petition --

Ms Hume has also organised an online petition calling for the Prime Minister to take action over the Roast Busters group which has already attracted more than 93,000 signatures.

The petition urges John Key to "bust the Roast Busters and show you take sexual violence seriously'' by ensuring justice for the teenage girls - some as young as 13 - who were named and shamed online when the young men claimed on Facebook to have got the girls drunk and had sex with them.

"We are asking [Justice Minister] Judith Collins to table the petition in parliament, so if we can get some time with them and sit down, we can really talk in a more specific way about what those objectives are.''

"We'd like to present the petition to parliament next week.''

Auckland mother Tania Domett, 42, was at the protest march with her daughter Stella, 12, and said she wanted to let the thousands of rape victims in New Zealand know they had support.

"I think it's really time to get out there from all walks of life in New Zealand and show that this is not acceptable and we need to effect a culture change in how we deal with the issues of sex and our young people."

"I think the sexualisation of children is really a big issue. I think there's not enough discussion about consent, I think consent is the main critical factor here and I think boys and girls need to know what that is,'' Ms Domett said.

"I think it's a difficult conversation that parents need to have with their children."

"A lot of schools are involved in sex education and some parents think that kind of abdicates them of their responsibility.''

We needed to change the way rape is reported and how police and the legal system respond to it, Ms Domett said.

"That's the critical, critical factor that needs to be addressed."

"It's not just about `ra ra ra' women's rights and lets just go on a jolly old protest march, we actually need to effect some really meaningful change in that area.''






Protest rallies:

Auckland, QEII Square, 2pm

Hamilton, Garden Place,7.30pm

Palmerston North, Cenotaph in the Square, 2pm

Wellington, Cuba Mall, 2pm

Christchurch, Bridge of Remembrance, 12pm

Dunedin, Museum lawn, 11am

- APNZ

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