Rape culture protest not moved due to threats - organisers

By Melissa Nightingale

Narjis Al-Zaidi (left) and Selome Teklezgi are two of the organisers of tomorrow's protest against rape culture in Wellington schools. Photo/Melissa Nightingale
Narjis Al-Zaidi (left) and Selome Teklezgi are two of the organisers of tomorrow's protest against rape culture in Wellington schools. Photo/Melissa Nightingale

A protest against rape culture in Wellington schools was not moved to Parliament due to threats from male students to run over protesters with cars, an organiser says.

The protest, prompted by derogatory comments about women posted online by male Wellington College students, was planned to be held outside the school, but was later changed to be held outside Parliament.

A comment posted online encouraged students to "bring your cars and run them all over".

"The threats weren't as big a reason that the media tried to make it out to be," said one of the organisers, 17-year-old Wellington East Girls' College student Narjis Al-Zaidi.

The main reason to move the protest to Parliament was to make the space more neutral and not make it look like protesters were attacking the school specifically.

Al-Zaidi said the aim was to promote "open discussion" around the topic of rape culture, following a week in which comments surfaced on Facebook joking about rape.

One comment said "if you don't take advantage of a drunk girl, you're not a true WC [Wellington College] boy."

Another comment said "f*** women."

Four students from St Patrick's College in Silverstream were also suspended this week for inappropriately filming female staff members in what the rector described as "a most distressing incident of sexual harassment".

The term 'rape culture' describes the social attitudes that trivialise sexual assault and rape.

Al-Zaidi and fellow student Selome Teklezgi were organising the protest for Monday at 4.30pm along with students Mia Faiumu and Sorcha Ashworth.

"We didn't want just to be like 'this happened, but whatever, boys will be boys'," Al-Zaidi said.

The organisers wanted it to be a peaceful protest.

Teklezgi said they realised the comments posted online were jokes, "but it shouldn't be normal".

"It shouldn't be a joke, rape shouldn't be something to joke about," she said.

Al-Zaidi said there was a group on Facebook called Feminazis, which some of the male students were posting in after news of the protest came out.

"If you know what the Nazis did, I feel like that's another thing you shouldn't be joking with. Comparing us to them, it's crazy."

They said they had 580 people confirm they were going to the protest on the Facebook event, and 250 people say they were "maybe" coming.

People of any gender are welcome.

- NZ Herald

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