Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Metro apologises for rape 'joke'

joseph Lavell Parker (left) and Beraiah Hales appeared in Roast Busters videos.
joseph Lavell Parker (left) and Beraiah Hales appeared in Roast Busters videos.

Metro magazine is under fire for publishing an "offensive" rape joke about the Roast Busters scandal.

Editor Simon Wilson has apologised on the magazine's website after receiving complaints.

The glossy Auckland magazine's satirical 20 Questions column asked: After the Roast Busters saga, should there be a new criminal charge: "Drunk in charge of a vagina?"

The comment outraged Auckland mother Jessie Hume, who recently handed a 111,000-signature petition demanding stronger action over the Roast Busters scandal to Parliament.

"This sort of thing trivialises rape and Metro magazine should know better," she said."The magazine thinks it is being funny but it is simply being offensive.

"The big problem is there are a lot of people who hold that opinion, and will think the magazine is supporting their view that it is the responsibility of the victim to protect themselves from rape."

New Zealanders reacted with shock last month to news that youths calling themselves the Roast Busters had boasted online of having sex with drunk, under-age girls.

Police called in a top inspector to lead a new investigation, after it emerged that four girls as young as 13 had complained of being raped but police had laid no charges.

Radio Live hosts Willie Jackson and John Tamihere were taken off air after being criticised over the way they interviewed an 18-year-old girl who said she was friends with one of the Roast Buster gang's victims.

Metro subscriber Julie Fairey, an Auckland blogger, said she was disappointed that the magazine had published the question.

"There are people who agree that some rape victims are responsible for what happened to them and this will have just reinforced their beliefs rather than challenged them."

Other people upset at the article voiced their disgust on the magazine's website.

Cartoonist Dylan Horrocks said: "So let me get this straight: you made a joke about drunk women being a dangerous rape hazard and now you're disappointed that we're all too thick to realise it's actually a joke about the kind of people who'd make a joke like that?"

On Friday, Wilson issued an apology on his blog and said the rape question was intended to be satirical.

Yesterday, he told the Herald on Sunday: "It is not a rape joke. It is a satirical question attacking the belief that if women get drunk they are somehow signalling they want to be raped. The question does not help to reinforce a climate where it's okay to joke about rape. It attacks the very idea of that.

"However, I accept that our intention was not sufficiently clear, and I apologise for this. We judged it wrongly."

TVNZ'S Seven Sharp host Jesse Mulligan defended the magazine, for which he writes a food column.

"Jokes aimed at rape victims aren't funny," he said. "Jokes aimed at the people trying to blame them can be; and like the best jokes, their value isn't just in the laugh but in the fresh perspective humour can provide."

- Herald on Sunday

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