'Rape culture' under fire

By Brendan Manning, Jacob Stein

The rape culture protest march moving up Queen St included David Shearer and his wide Anuschka, Photo / Michael Craig
The rape culture protest march moving up Queen St included David Shearer and his wide Anuschka, Photo / Michael Craig

Politicians, actors and many first-time protesters turned out yesterday in a wave of street demonstrations against the so-called Roast Busters.

Protesters responded to an online call from the Bust Rape Culture Now group to join rallies.

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An estimated 2000 people marched in Wellington and, in Auckland, around 1000 people walked from Britomart to Myers Park.

Attending her first protest, Kristen Ball, 25, told the Herald on Sunday the Roast Busters case had made her more aware of poor attitudes.

"The use of double standards, and derogatory terms against women, in everyday situations like a workplace need to stop."

Actor Sam Bunkall, better known as Boyd on Shortland Street, said the march fitted with work he does with the Rape Prevention Education organisation. "People are finally starting to talk about it, and that's the issue with sexual violence."

Mt Albert MP David Shearer said it was clear people didn't like the kind of culture that had slipped into 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."

Rape survivor Louise Nicholas urged Prime Minister John Key and the Government to step up.

Reverend John MacDonald, 59, who works at the Creative Ministry and Mission, criticised a lack of voice from some churches. "Their silence is indicative of the church's disconnection with the community and issues of human rights." Protesters are campaigning for:

• Rape crisis centres to be adequately and sustainably funded;

• Educational programmes to be set up focusing on rape prevention and awareness;

• Police to put measures in place to allow for better support of survivors; and

• The Law Commission report into pre-trial and trial processes for sexual assault victims to be reinstated immediately.

Meanwhile, more than 150 accounts of sexual abuse have been posted on a website set up in response to the Roast Busters scandal.

The "I Am Someone" website founder Meg Bates said the Roast Busters scandal has sparked wider conversations of rape culture and how victims of sexual assault were talked about.

"That was the number one thing that started it, but I guess more importantly it was about getting the voices of people who have had these experiences out there."

Wellington Rape Crisis manager Natalie Gousmett said giving survivors of sexual abuse a voice to tell their story could be empowering.

- Herald on Sunday

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