The murder of yet another woman prompted a High Court judge this week to condemn the attitude of men who claim "ownership" over their partners. We ask again: when will this country say enough's enough?

The day after 22-year-old Parmita Rani left her controlling husband, he waited in the foyer of her central-Auckland language school to stab her to death.

Mandeep Singh's actions prompted a High Court judge to say New Zealanders cannot allow men to continue believing they "have some sort of rights" over their partners.

The 29-year-old's sentencing to 13 years in prison on Tuesday came just weeks after Tara Brown, a 24-year-old Kiwi living on the Gold Coast, died after a brutal road-rage attack.

Her partner Lionel Patea - also a New Zealander whom she had left a week before - has been charged with her murder.


The crimes resemble a litany of similar cases that Justice Mark Woolford spoke out against at Singh's sentencing.

"As a community, we can't allow this to happen," he said.

He drew on a pre-sentence report that labelled Singh "highly protective and controlling" and totally rejected the accused's arguments his wife had provoked his actions by leaving him for another man.

"You saw yourself as having some sort of rights over your wife. Whether your wife formed a friendship with another man is irrelevant. Nothing she did caused your actions."

The judge's comments resonated with University of Waikato Psychology Senior Lecturer Dr Neville Robertson, who specialises in family violence.

"I thought they were very appropriate," he said. "These are not crimes of love, these are crimes of ownership. It is relatively easy to understand the emotions of someone who loses a loved one because they just don't want to be in a relationship, but there is no notion of love if the solution is then to kill her - that is totally selfish."

Dr Robertson said the homicidal behaviour stemmed from a strong sense of entitlement and ownership, an "if I can't have her, no one can," mentality. "If you believe you are entitled to your partner's undivided attention, if you believe you're entitled to be the centre of their universe, at some point some of these guys, if their entitlements are threatened, are going to use violence to get what they want."

New Zealand has the highest rate of intimate partner violence in the developed world. Each year, 14 women and eight children are killed by a family member, according to Statistics New Zealand data.


The risk of a woman dying at the hands of her partner increases fourfold at the time of trying to end a relationship, he said.

"You can really only understand that in terms of ownership."

Dr Robertson said the behaviour was grounded in the belief that men were superior to women.

"It's just a very simple thing that I believe would see the end of domestic violence, is if men gave up the idea that they ought to be in charge.

"It's such a bloody simple idea but it's also so complicated because that idea and that pattern of male entitlement is so embedded in all societies."

Over the course of his career, Dr Robertson has worked with men from violent relationships who were from all stratas of society across race, religion and class.

"One of the things that really united the guys in those groups was their inability to see the concept of women as equals. They think that somebody has to be in charge and make the final decision - and sure as hell it was going to be them and not their partner."

Spokeswoman for national domestic abuse charity Shine, Holly Carrington, said although awareness about domestic violence had grown, there was still a raft of legislative and stereotype changes needed.

Campaigns like Are You Okay had seen a rise in awareness, but there were still myths about why women don't "just leave" abusive or controlling partners. "It's almost never a solution to leave the relationship - that almost always puts them in more danger and that's a huge thing that people don't understand."

The agency's concerns and suggestions, along with those of other stakeholders who made submissions, are being considered as part of a government review of the country's family violence legislation.

The initiative, led by Justice Minister Amy Adams, has gained cross-party support described as "unprecedented" by those at the coalface of the social issue such as Family Court Judge Lex de Jong.

Judge de Jong established the Auckland City Family Violence Criminal Court in 2007 and was lead judge there until 2012, and has studied international responses to the issue. "It's such a huge problem, at the moment just about everything we do is at the wrong end, we are the ambulance end," he said.

In 2014, police attended more than 100,000 family violence callouts. In the 2014 financial year, the number of people charged with breaching protection orders was nearly equal to the number of orders issued in New Zealand courts.

Ministry of Justice data showed 2981 protection orders were granted in New Zealand courts and 2218 people were charged with breaches.

Judge de Jong said he supported the introduction of police using body cameras when they attend family violence callouts.

"Those tapes have been used with families to show them what's happened. Often, people are affected by alcohol and drugs and there is nothing more effective than showing someone how they were acting towards their partner and their children."

He said it has resulted in more convictions as people see the footage and plead guilty. Police also use the footage to review their practices and how they deal with family violence.

The hero who tried to help

Zane Paki acted instinctively to stop the fight. Photo / Nick Reed
Zane Paki acted instinctively to stop the fight. Photo / Nick Reed

An Auckland painter thought he was breaking up a fight, but as he got closer he saw one man was being stabbed and a woman lying dead on the ground.

Zane Paki, a husband and father, said he acted instinctively to stop Mandeep Singh, who had just murdered his wife before turning on her friend in the foyer of a central Auckland language school in May.

Singh, 29, was sentenced on Tuesday to life with a minimum non-parole period of 13 years for killing his wife, Parmita Rani, 22, and stabbing her friend, Parminder Sandhu, also 22, whom he suspected she was having an affair with.

Mr Paki had just signed in at the reception of the AWI International Education Group, where he was to do some painting, and had gone outside to get his gear.

When he returned to the second floor of the Queen St building, the doors opened and he was met with chaos.

"When I came out of the elevator I thought there was a fire because everyone was running around like something was on fire," he said.

"When I came around the corner I just thought these two guys were having a fight. When I looked closely I saw he was stabbing him in the ears and I thought it was just them two.

"I grabbed the knife off him and threw it on the ground and then the crowd kind of moved away, there was about 40 of them and none of them spoke very good English. When they moved I saw [Parmita Rani] was on the ground and I didn't know it then, but she wasn't alive."

He said he took Singh away from the crowd and sat him down to try and calm him down.

"He was still yelling out and then he pulled out another knife so I threw that knife on the ground."

The police arrived soon after and took Singh - who still had a number of knives on him - away.

Mr Paki said the incident was deeply shocking and revealed how prevalent domestic violence was in the community.

"It's sad because domestic violence is just everywhere - it's not just Indians but for all communities. This happened right in the middle of Queen St. You can't stab your wife just because you think she is having an affair."

Where to get help

Immediate danger: call 111


- 0508 744 633

Family Violence Information Line - 0800 456 450

Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843

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