Protesters take aim at rape culture

  • 21/11/2014

Protesters swarmed the Auckland High Court today to take a stand against rape culture in New Zealand.

The National Day of Action to Bust Rape culture is in its second year and organiser Jess Belle says the recent handling of the Roast Busters case has sparked action nationwide.

"The catalyst for organising this was the very public Roast Busters case and the outcry about it," says Ms Belle. "It was a crack in the wall of silence around this issue and an opportunity to push for change."

The Roast Busters case shocked the nation last year after it was revealed a group of teenagers in Auckland allegedly got underage girls drunk and sexually assaulted them.

Last month police announced they weren't going to lay charges against the boys allegedly involved with the incidents despite receiving multiple complaints.

This decision sparked another debate about rape culture in New Zealand.

Three women chained themselves to the front of the Auckland Central Police Station earlier this month in protest against the handling of the case.

Ms Belle believes the actions of the Roast Busters and the handling of the case is not unusual, it just had more publicity.

"When we were coming up with a name for last year's march we didn't want to centre the Roast Busters too much because that implies that they are aberrations rather than a product of rape culture, which is the larger issue we want to address."

Executive director of Rape Prevention Education, Dr Kim McGregor, says the Law commission has recommended a number of proposals for improving the justice system and she is calling for it to be released to the public.

"At the moment with current criminal justice system, rape survivors are the only ones put on trial. Their cross examined by hostile defence lawyers, while the defendant can sit there in silence and have his defence lawyers brutalise the rape complainant."

Ms Belle hopes the protest will help prompt changes that will make it easier for victims of perpetrators of rape to face justice.

"New Zealand hasn't had the imagination to deal with rape beyond either ignoring it or, very rarely, incarcerating someone," she says. "Of 100 rapes, maybe one will result in a conviction."

A sister march is was also held in Wellington where more than 300 people were expected to attend.

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