Dozens of women report being sexually assaulted in public in Hawke's Bay every year. As a murder in London ignites a worldwide firestorm around women's safety, reporter Louise Gould asks the question - is it safe here?
Amanda Meynell's seen the statistics and she knows they don't tell the full story.
As manager of Heretaunga Women's Centre, she's seen and heard it all, and she wants change.
Official police crime statistics show reported non-domestic sexual assaults in Hawke's Bay have remained largely static over the past five years. But each year there's dozens too many for Meynell's liking - 68 in the Hastings district and 37 in Napier in 2020 alone.
After the high-profile murder of Sarah Everard in England, women across Hawke's Bay are now speaking out about sexual violence, women's safety and the language attached to such crimes.
British police officer Wayne Couzens is set to go on trial in October accused of the kidnap and murder of the 33-year-old woman.
Meynell says the first step to equality is to change language used when such incidents occur.
"We talk about women being raped but it's men who rape. We talk about women being sexually assaulted; it's men who are sexually assaulting women."
Meynell said society must start looking at language and remove the blame from women.
"Even now, today, people are questioned around what they are wearing, what time of the day it was, had they been drinking. And that's not okay."
Meynell said only 10 per cent of sexual assaults get reported and just 3 per cent go to trial.
"When we look at statistics around crime we know that it's just a snapshot of what's really happening for women in our community."
Meynell said there are a range of reasons why so few assaults are reported, including shame, guilt, intimidation and not wanting to get the perpetrator in trouble.
"One out of three girls [one out of six to seven boys] will be sexually abused by the time they are 16, 90 per cent of the time that will be done by someone known to that girl."
In terms of adults, one in five New Zealand women will experience a sexual assault.
"It's something that affects all of us. Because when you look at those statistics, that's a huge percentage of the population and someone we know is likely to have been affected by sexual harm."
Meynell said in Hawke's Bay there are real concerns for women's safety.
"As women we are always thinking about our safety when we go out, whether it's in the daytime or at night-time.
"We'll have a phone easily acceptable in case we need help, we'll be mindful of what we're wearing, we may be holding our keys in our hand just in case something happens so we've got some kind of defence."
NZ Police community partnerships and prevention superintendent Eric Tibbott said violence against women, and gender-based violence was a serious issue in Hawke's Bay.
"NZ Police's message to women and those who are victims of gender-based violence is that we are here to help, to listen, to provide support and to seek justice for you.
"Our message to those who inflict violence or harassment on others based on their gender, is that your behaviour will not be tolerated."
Meynell said a woman's right to safely get home without harm is a worldwide issue.
"It's really important to speak out and everything is on the table in terms of its ability to cause harm."
She added that often those who sexually assault and harm people are in positions of power and those who are trusted, like Everard's suspected killer - police officer Wayne Couzens.
In 2019, former provincial cricket representative Jason Trembath was sentenced to three years and nine months' in jail for multiple indecent assaults on women.
Trembath admitted to 11 charges of indecent assault relating to the random indecent groping of females as they ran or walked on the streets, steps and pathways of Napier and Havelock North.
Meynell said the ongoing trauma is part of what the Heretaunga Women's Centre does in supporting women, along with other organisations.
"Women who have received counselling and therapy following a sexual assault or some sexual violence are more likely to overcome the adverse effects that can happen as a result of that."
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE TO BRING ABOUT CHANGE?
Labour MP Anna Lorck
"Text me when you get home" - these are words that Lorck knows well. With five daughters, she always wants to know they are safe and stays well connected when they're out and about in their university cities.
Lorck said violence against women is an ongoing global issue and takes all forms.
"It's important to stand in solidarity with other women regarding asserting our right to be safe – across the world."
But the Labour MP added the issue is also about men, and not just about women having to "fix the problem".
Women's Advocate Rizwaana Latiff
Latiff, originally from South Africa, works extensively with the police around domestic violence and sexual violence.
"There are a lot of women out there who don't feel confident enough to report sexual or domestic violence.
"In regards to migrant woman it's probably because of the stigma attached, but also the fact that in our countries we don't have that relationship with police like we have in New Zealand."
Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise
Wise said she generally feels safe in Napier, however she would not walk home alone at night.
"Sadly I think many women the world over, will have experienced unwanted attention of some description at some stage in their lives."
Wise added that protests, like the vigil for Sarah Everard, are a way for people to exercise their human rights and can be powerful tools for enacting social change.
Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst
Hazlehurst said Hastings District Council is doing all it can to ensure that women remain safe.
She said the council's Safer Hastings partners were doing a lot of work to keep the community safe, along with their 120 community patrollers, 35 Kaitiaki and City Assist members and an extensive CCTV network.
"While these measures are in place and help with safety, our women still have a fundamental right to safely walk home at night."