Women's safety is everyone's concern

I’m struggling with the Grace Millane story. What happened is awful and wrong, and my heart goes out to her family and friends.

There’s lots of theories and talk about what happened. I understand people trying to come to terms with it, make meaning out of a senseless act. But there are no excuses, drugs, alcohol, clothing, dating/hookup apps, sex, anything the victim did. There are no excuses, it is never okay.

I’ve also heard people seem surprised that it happened here. We need to face facts, our country is not safe for women - New Zealand is considered one of the worst in the developed world in terms of safety for women.

A large part of this because of our appalling domestic violence. An average of 13 women, 10 men, and 9 children are killed each year due to domestic violence. Nearly 40% of our women will be victims of abuse from a close partner. Disabled women are twice as likely to be victims of abuse than women.

One in five women will be victims of sexual assault as an adult and most go unreported. Estimates suggest that 91% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Of those that are reported, only 13% result in a conviction.

I don’t want to ruin people’s view of our country but admitting we have a problem is the first step to dealing with it. Especially us men, who more often than not are the perpetrators. Obviously most men don’t commit these awful acts, but some of us are bystanders which enables it to continue. It can be hard, calling our friends, families, neighbors and strangers out but we cannot let this continue.

We have every right be be angry and upset about the appalling actions that ended Grace’s life, let’s direct that passion into doing something about it to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Call the Police on 111 if you think someone is in danger.

Support the community organisations trying to help those in need.

Ask others if they’re okay and support them if they need it. http://www.areyouok.org.nz/

Don’t condone or walk past violence, that includes physical, sexual or psychological. https://whiteribbon.org.nz/

Challenge ourselves and those around us to take this issue seriously. Don’t joke about violence or make excuses.

There are candlelight vigils being organised for this week, a good opportunity to come together and share our compassion and solidarity. 
Auckland: https://www.facebook.com/events/1062548473924944/
Howick: https://www.facebook.com/events/1950321131682152/
Wellington: https://www.facebook.com/events/206809043527948/

Crime, CommunityDamian Light