Press Release – Wellington Young Feminists
The Wellington Young Feminists’ Collective is disappointed in a comment by Wellington detective Shane Carter on a sexual assault in Whitby on Sunday morning.
The attack involved a home intruder who allegedly sexually assaulted a female occupant while she was asleep next to her partner Detective Carter called the incident “a timely reminder to ensure all doors are locked and windows are secured before going to bed each night.”
The Collective, which consists of over 1000 people, are calling on the Wellington Police to apologise for what it says is a victim-blaming comment.
“Too often messages around sexual violence call on victims and potential victims to change their behaviour, when the behaviour that needs to change is that of the perpetrators,” says the Collective’s organiser Nicole Skews.
“Detective Carter’s comment sends a message that even if you’re asleep in pyjamas next to your partner when you get assaulted, the comments about your attack will urge people to take precautions so they don’t get assaulted.”
Crime Statistics for the fiscal year ending 30 June 2011 show that the most common setting in which people are sexually assaulted is in the home. The statistics, which were released last October, also show that there has been an increase in sexual violence reported in Wellington.
One in four New Zealand women will experience sexual violence in her lifetime, according to the Ministry of Justice. Messages which blame victims of rape and sexual abuse for not taking precautions to prevent their assaults have attracted international criticism through last year’s global SlutWalk movement.
“People are raising awareness that these messages are harmful to the survivors of rape and sexual abuse, and that they create myths which allow sexual violence to continue to be so common. If the victims are made to feel responsible for preventing their attacks, then the perpetrators can get off lightly.” Ms Skews said.
Research shows that most sexual assaults are not reported, and that New Zealand has a low rate of conviction for those accused of sexual assault.