Women warned to think safety first

By Victoria White

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Hastings Women's Refuge manager Julie Hart.
Hastings Women's Refuge manager Julie Hart.

Hastings Women's Refuge has spoken out against those making women feel unsafe in their own neighbourhoods, following the spate of "attacks" last week.

Police reported there were four assaults last week, including an alleged sexual assault, where women were targeted by men on the streets of Hastings and Napier.

Hastings Women's Refuge manager Julie Hart said the recent reports had the centre concerned. She encouraged all women to consider their safety when out.

"It is a sorry state of affairs when women cannot feel safe and secure in their own neighbourhoods because of the violent or menacing action of these few men.

"We raise our girls to be wary of the world around them but if we all raised our boys to be respectful of people then teaching our girls how to stay safe should not be necessary."

Mr Hart added: "Our hope is that no harm comes to another woman and that police find whoever is responsible very soon."

While most of the assaults had happened in Hastings, the city's deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers said she did not think it made Hastings less safe than other areas.

"Obviously there appears to be an issue.

"There's been a spate of really unfortunate incidents happening at the moment and I certainly hope the perpetrators get caught quickly." There was not a lot more the council could do, Ms Bowers said, other than putting an emphasis on CCTV, and making sure people were aware of their safety when they were out.

As a regular walker herself, Ms Bowers said: "It's an absolute shame where people are being put in a situation that they have to be worried when they are out doing something good for themselves."

On Wednesday an 18-year-old was alleged to have been sexually assaulted after a man pulled her into a silver Subaru on Wilson Rd as she was leaving Flaxmere Park.

The day after, a 24-year-old told police she had been walking along Francis Hicks St, Hastings, when a man in a silver people mover tried to pull her into the car.

These incidents came just after police issued a public notice about a cyclist "grabbing" female joggers. These were reported to be on Southland Rd, Hastings, and in Taradale.

A police spokeswoman said there was nothing to suggest the incidents were related.

The assaults on Francis Hicks Rd and Southland Rd were still under investigation. Police were currently interviewing a man about the Flaxmere Park assault but no charges had been laid.

She said police were concerned about the assaults as they "don't often get them in a run like this."

"It's a reminder to everyone, not just females, but if you are walking alone at night be aware of your personal safety."

She suggested sticking to well-lit areas, and jogging or walking in groups.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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