Wellington students march against sexual violence

Hundreds of Wellington students are marching in protest against sexual violence in the law profession, in the wake of sexual assault allegations against Russell McVeagh.  

Victoria University students marched along Lambton Quay, clad in black, chanting "Russell McVeagh, assaulting people's not ok" on Thursday afternoon.

The students are calling for Russell McVeagh to be suspended from all Government work until their external review is complete, and for all law firms to adopt a set of demands including a zero tolerance approach to sexual assault and harassment in the workplace.

Wellington students march against sexual violence
Photo credit: Newshub/ Emma Jolliff

Student Isabella Lenahin-Ikin says the protest is in solidarity with friends and colleagues who have been sexually harassed and assaulted in the workplace, and particularly the legal profession.

"We're all law students and we decided that enough is enough, and that we want to stand up to the legal profession and tell them that we don't accept anymore stories of sexual assault or harassment coming out."

She said the problem was not isolated to Russell McVeagh.

"There are stories like this at other law firms, they just haven't come out."  

VUWSA Welfare Vice President and fifth year law student Bethany Paterson said the turnout at the protest "goes to show how many people care about this issue, that they will turn up to the party".

"Russell McVeagh started this conversation to allow us to speak about the wider culture within the legal profession which is harrowing, to be honest, the stories on Zoe Lawton's anonymous blog showing instances of sexual assault in the workplace. Harrowing, truly harrowing."

The students marched from the university's Law School to Midland Park, where Russell McVeagh's office is located.

The students also chanted: "Wherever we work, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no!"

And: "What do we want? Student safety. When do we want it? We want it now"

The march was led by the Victoria University of Wellington Students Association (VUWSA) and the VUW Feminist Law Society (VUWFLS).

The students dressed in black in solidarity with the Thursdays in Black campaign, which advocates for a world free from rape and violence.

Russell McVeagh has been contacted for comment about the protest.