Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Stop the murders of our mothers

Photo / File
Photo / File

If domestic violence protection measures are not stepped up by the Government, more murders of women at the hands of their male partners is inevitable, says the organiser of White Ribbon Day.

Initiatives to address violence involving whanau and families - such as Whanau Ora - had the potential to be "world leading", White Ribbon organising committee chairman Brian Gardner said.

But the recent release of the Government's White Paper for Vulnerable Children puts the emphasis on protecting children, and does not provide the same protection levels for their mothers, he said.

Today marks the 21st anniversary of the international White Ribbon Day which aims to eliminate violence against women.

Mr Gardner said to not put the same value on protecting mothers as their children "flies in the face of international research".

"We applaud (Social Development) Minister Paula Bennett's heartfelt desire to protect New Zealand children from violence but unless we protect their mothers and hold their fathers accountable for their violence, men, women and children will continue to be killed and traumatised," he said.

Ms Bennett was unavailable for comment.

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall said police could attest to the dreadful toll family violence takes on communities.

"This year we have initiated 23 family violence death investigations. For a society that claims to be peaceful, it is a sad statistic."

Labour's Women's Affairs spokeswoman Sue Moroney said the number of family violence-related deaths had increased by more than 50 per cent since 2008.

"That increase is harrowing. Any government truly committed to helping victims of family violence would take these figures as an instruction to take stock and take action.

"Instead, under National, police have actually stopped effectively reporting family violence statistics and have admitted that current statistics for family violence offences are no longer able to give meaningful comparisons across time."

She said services including rape crisis and frontline police were underfunded.

"Women's Affairs Minister, Jo Goodhew, needs to be held to account for these dire statistics. Police Minister Anne Tolley needs to front up to the needs for proper resourcing within our police force. Both women are in positions of power and must advocate for those in need."

Ms Tolley said National had put 600 additional police officers on the front line, and funding for police was maintained in the Budget.

"We are also increasing the hours which officers spend on the front line through the Prevention First strategy, Neighbourhood Policing Teams and the use of mobile devices."

Ms Goodhew said she was very concerned about any violence against women, and its impacts on individual women and their children, communities, and society as a whole.

"This is why one of my priorities is to increase women's safety from violence."

The Government's Better Public Services, which targeted reducing violent crime by 20 per cent by 2017 and reducing reoffending by 25 per cent, would do a great deal to improve women's safety, she said.

"Everyone in the community has a role to play in keeping women safe. It is essential that everyone speaks out and takes action if they know that violence is occurring."

By the numbers:

* between January 2011 and October this year 77,521 family violence investigations were launched;

* that equates to 125 cases of family violence every day during that time;

* of the investigations launched there were 67 murders or attempted murders;

* there were 43,425 family violence investigations where at least an injury offence occurred;

* there were 2235 family violence investigations where at least a sexual assault and related offence occurred; and

* there were 10,182 family violence investigations where at least an abduction or harassment offence occurred.

- Source: Police

- APNZ

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