Grace Millane's death prompts calls for men and the Government to end violence against women

  • 15/12/2018

Advocates are calling for change to New Zealand's horrific rates of violence against women after the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane.

An open letter signed by 50 influential women, community leaders and NGOs has asked men and the Government to tackle violence against women.

Signatories include former Prime Ministers Helen Clark and Jenny Shipley, Anika Moa, the Māori Women's Welfare League and the National Council of Women.

A copy of the letter was sent to current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"When young women are murdered, it reminds women that our safety is an illusion," the letter said. "We have some of the worst statistics for sexual violence, domestic violence and violence against women in the OECD. Most of that violence is at the hands of our men.

"This is a time for national soul-searching. It is also a time for solution-based action. "

The letter has suggested the Government do the following:

  • Adopt a strategy on preventing and ending gender-based violence against women.
  • Run public awareness and behavioural change programmes to promote understanding of prevention of violence against women.
  • Allocate resources to comprehensive and evidence-based prevention of violence against women.
  • Ensure that every women in NZ has access to culturally appropriate domestic and sexual violence support services when they need it.

The call is being echoed by the organisers of a 'Peace Walk for Grace' event being held in Christchurch on Saturday.

"I hope more than anything that the Government sit up and take a look at that... we've all had enough of seeing on the news media that somebody else has lost their life due to someone else," organiser Jocelyn Bowden told Newshub.

The peace walk starts at the bus exchange at noon and finishes in the Cathedral Square. It will be in memory of all victims of domestic violence.

Ms Bowden said Ms Millane's death was the catalyst for action.

"I got really angry and really devastated with what happened to [Ms Millane], and I think it's also important that we acknowledge the others in New Zealand who have also suffered the same fate."

Ms Millane's body will be flown back to the UK this weekend.

Another walk, entitled 'Walk for Grace', will be held in Auckland on Saturday, beginning at the corner of Fort and Queen St and ending at Aotea Square.