An Auckland restaurant is being accused of promoting violence against women after putting up a Valentine's Day sign suggesting men open the car boot for their dates.

Dominion Rd restaurant Eiffel en Eden this week put up a blackboard sign on the street reading: "On Valentine's Day open the car door for her. After Valentine's Day open the car boot for her."

The restaurant manager told the Herald today that the sign referred to helping women with the groceries - but the sign has been slammed as "tone deaf" and in bad taste given New Zealand's poor domestic violence record.

Eiffel en Eden says this sign refers to groceries, not violence against women. Photo / Supplied
Eiffel en Eden says this sign refers to groceries, not violence against women. Photo / Supplied

On social media people also referred to past cases where women have been killed in New Zealand and placed in car boots.

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Women's advocate Sarah Trotman said when she saw an image of the sign being shared this morning she immediately thought it was referring to domestic violence.

She was so "outraged" she drove straight to the store to ask it be changed.

"The manager told me he was referring to opening [the car boot] for groceries. I said, 'That is nonsense, do you appreciate the devastating statistics around violence to women in Aotearoa?'

"He told me to leave the cafe as I was not a customer."

Trotman then went outside and altered the sign. She returned an hour later and found the sign had not been changed back.

Restaurant manager Henry Gough told the Herald a staff member had written the sign, but he had approved its wording.

"It has nothing at all to do with domestic violence.

"Where do you put your groceries after shopping?

"It is romantic, Valentine's Day, [helping] with the chores at home.

"There are a few people interpreting it [as domestic violence], but we never intended it that way. We had good intentions."

Gough insisted that despite the complaints they would not be changing the sign.

"Why should we change it? Just because some people don't like it? There is freedom of speech in this country, and there was never a link to violence."

Trotman said she did not believe the manager did not know it could be interpreted as referring to violence.

"It think that is an outright lie. The person who wrote it, knew it was inappropriate, but did it anyway."

Even the explanation that it was about groceries was deeply sexist, but that was "another level of discussion".

Trotman, who spends time working in the domestic violence area, said it was another example of the issues women have to constantly deal with.

She called on more men to support women.

"Before I changed the sign I asked a man on the street walking past what he thought about it. He said, 'It's terrible'. I asked him to go inside and ask them to change it. He said, 'It's not my battle'."

If you're in danger now:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don't stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay

Where to go for help or more information:

• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nzwww.justice.govt.nz/family-justice/domestic-violence
• National Network of Stopping Violence: www.nnsvs.org.nz
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent. www.whiteribbon.org.nz

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