Grace Millane murder: New Zealand's toxic masculinity, domestic violence must be addressed - White Ribbon

Grace Millane's murderer may be behind bars but unless there is fundamental change in New Zealand, one in three women will continue to experience violence from a partner or ex-partner in their lifetime, says White Ribbon.

The killer of the young English tourist was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years on Friday morning. In November 2019 the 28-year-old was found guilty of murdering Millane in Auckland's CityLife Hotel after meeting the young woman on Tinder.

Yet White Ribbon, a campaign working to end violence towards women, says the justice shown on Friday is not indicative of the wider issues at hand.

"One person has been locked away but are New Zealand women any safer?" White Ribbon manager Rob McCann said in a statement. 

"In locking away one person we have not addressed the fact that one in three women experience violence from a partner or ex-partner in their lifetime. 

"We have not addressed the unhealthy attitudes towards women that are nurtured by pornography... we have not addressed the victim-blaming which the defence tried to utilise and that those same myths were repeated by sections of our communities."

White Ribbon ambassador and Newshub digital's managing editor, Mark Longley, highlighted the "higher than average" number of New Zealand women who died at the hands of their partner in the 12 months following Millane's murder. 

"It is great that justice has been done today and the man who murdered Grace will spend a long time behind bars," Longley acknowledged.

"The behaviour displayed by the man who killed Grace shocked me. Descriptions of how he smuggled her body out of the hotel, went on a date and watched pornography hours after killing her were appalling."

Longley, whose daughter Emily was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2011, said it's imperative that men spread the message that any form of violence against women is wrong. 

Healthy masculinity

To learn from Millane's murder and address the country's domestic violence statistics, toxic masculinity must not be allowed to exist in New Zealand's culture and communities.

"We must examine and undermine the attitudes and behaviours that enable the kind of toxic masculinity that drove the killer," McCann said.

"We see healthy masculinity as rejecting unhelpful stereotypes and unspoken rules about what it is to be a boy or man and replacing those with qualities such as kindness, being empathetic and finding peaceful resolutions to problems.

"Boys and men can still be 'brave', have muscles, [be] assertive, tough, love rugby, enjoy a 'pint' with the lads... but boys and men should also be free to express sad emotions and anything else that does not fit into rigid gender stereotypes.

"Healthy masculinity is [about] treating everyone with respect and having respectful relationships (which always include consent). 

"This is what we must teach our boys to ensure they do not buy into the toxic behaviour that encourages men to use violence and disrespect women. When men encounter men that are violent or hold sexist views, they must be encouraged to call out the bad behaviour."