Wellington protesters demand action on sexual violence as assaults rise

More than 100 people have descended on central Wellington on Wednesday demanding action on a spate of sexual violence against women in the city's party precinct.

Many women have reported feeling increasingly unsafe walking the streets of the city, saying they are constantly "scared" and "not really that safe", especially at night.

Maria Kovacs, who works at Rape Crisis Wellington, says she has seen a spike in sexual assault victims needing help in recent months

"In the last half of last year we saw a 155 percent increase of social work… It's not fair and it's not okay and these women deserve more."

Kovacs is particularly concerned about a possible increase in women being drugged and assaulted. 

"I spoke to a woman yesterday whose daughter's drink was spiked."

Sexual assaults in Wellington have increased by nearly 50 percent in the last five years, and more and more women have been coming forward with their experiences in recent months.

Protest organiser Jahla Lawrence says women are at a breaking point.

"They're fed up, they've had enough, they're sick of accepting the status quo of saying this is just how we are, we should just live in fear."

The rally's organisers are calling for three changes:

  • A revamp of the party precinct, including additional lighting,
  • more investment in sexual violence prevention,
  • And a plan with the hospitality industry to rid bars and clubs of sexual violence. 

"I don't think anyone in a position of power has done quite enough," Lawrence says.

Tracey Lear owns three bars in the central city and has spent $14,000 upgrading security cameras to help with sexual assault investigations. 

"It's not just for the patrons but for my own team, the females that work for me."

Wellington central MP Grant Robertson says local and central Government are taking steps to tackle sexual violence but concedes more needs to be done.

"We will continue to put resources in, this is a scourge on our society," he says.

It's a society which women are rallying to change.