Ministry of Justice launches new guide for sexual violence victims

The Ministry of Justice has launched a new online guide to help victims of sexual violence understand their legal options.

The website, which launched on Thursday, was created in response to a Law Commission report which found New Zealand's justice system often fails to help those affected by sexual violence.

This systematic failure to address victims' needs leads to low rates of reporting as well as "secondary victimisation", which occurs when survivors are blamed or shamed for speaking up about what happened.

The Ministry of Justice released its own report into improving the justice system's response to sexual violence survivors, which also informed the guide.

The website includes revenge porn in its definition of sexual violence, alongside rape and unwanted touching. It also says victims can still report violent incidents even if they happened a long time ago.

Jan Logie, Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence), says the new guide is a "step in the right direction" for New Zealand.

"This new online guide responds to the overwhelming feedback from victims and survivors about the need for better access to information to help them understand the justice process," she said in a statement.

"We know that navigating the justice system can be really difficult and while there will always be variations in the experiences of each person going through the courts, having accessible and easy-to-understand information about the stages of the process helps reduce the stress associated with legal proceedings.

"Along with modern law and whole-of-government efforts through the joint venture to create an integrated system, these operational improvements to the justice system play an important part in improving the response to victims/survivors of sexual violence."