Editorial: Better to be safe than sorry

By Katie Holland

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Just before Christmas Sione Finau was jailed after he admitted raping a 17-year-old girl, who he didn't know, in broad daylight last February in Rotorua.

He tackled and punched her when she tried to run away, then dragged her to a secluded part of Linton Park and subjected her to a brutal 40-minute rape.

A Tongan overstayer, he will serve part of his eight-year and four-month sentence then be deported. His victim's life will never be quite the same again.

Ironically the girl had waited until it was light, about 6.40am, before she walked home from her friend's house, as she thought it would be safer.

As the judge said, she should expect to be able to walk through Rotorua's suburbs in daylight without fear.

As I sat in court listening to the horrific details, my heart went out to that young woman and her family. And the scary thing was, she could have been my friend or workmate, she could have been me.

With the party season in full swing it's perhaps a timely reminder, especially for females, that our streets are not always safe.

That message has been drummed into me by my mother my whole life. She worried about me, as a girl, far more than she ever worried about my brother.

It's a sad fact women are often easier targets for opportunistic criminals.

As women we tend to think twice about things most men would not _ walking alone or even with a female friend at night, taking a shortcut through a park or quiet area, going home to an empty house at night.

Of course we don't need to live in fear and we certainly shouldn't become paranoid or stop walking alone during the day because of this horrific but, thankfully, rare attack.

But at other times, let's remember what our mums told us. Get a taxi or call for a ride if you've been out at night, don't risk a walk alone.

Don't let too much alcohol cloud your judgment. Look after each other.

Trust your instincts, if something doesn't feel right, get out or call for help.

It may be a cliche but it's true _ it's better to be safe than sorry.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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