SAPN wins a Grace Gives Grant!

We are excited to announce that SAPN has won a $1,000.00 grant from Grace Gives!

Grace Gives is an initiative from Grace Removals, who generously support community organisations throughout New Zealand who:

  • Focus on communities which are excluded or disadvantaged
  • Create relationships and environments where people are empowered to help themselves & each other
  • Actively involve people and communities
  • Build inclusiveness
  • Involve approaches that are likely to bring about solutions to complex problems

We are incredibly grateful to everyone who voted for us to receive this grant, which will we use for professional development contributing to the advancement of our staffs cultural knowledge, allowing us to build skills for cross-cultural work that serves Māori in a positive way; ultimately deepening the organisations understanding of the relationship between colonisation and sexual violence. We would like to work towards using Māori models and approaches in our work but first need to develop the understandings and skills within our team to facilitate these with integrity.

Congratulations to all the other organisations who received this funding, and thank you, Grace Gives!

For more information on this fund, you can have a look at the Grace Gives website here.

Vote for SAPN!

We need your votes to win a $1000 community grant from Grace Gives. A generous initiative from Grace Removals. Click here to vote now. It really does take just a few seconds. We’d hugely appreciate you circulating it around your networks too.

If we are successful, this grant will contribute to time and professional development towards advancing the cultural knowledge of our staff, in order to deepen our understanding of the relationship between colonisation and sexual violence, and to build necessary skills for cross-cultural work that serves Māori in a positive way. We would like to work towards using Māori models and approaches in our work but first need to develop the understandings and skills within our team to facilitate these with integrity.

NZ Beer Calendar Fundraiser

The team behind the NZ Beer Calendar is at it again. If you’re part of the beer or hospitality industry, you can  feature on the calendar. If you’d generally like to support this fun project and valuable fundraiser for us, you can donate or buy a calendar. This year, we are offering an It’s Our Business course, or places for individual staff on a course, for donors from the industry. All details on the calendar’s PledgeMe

New Zealand rugby has opportunity to take the lead in transforming harmful sport culture

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network is glad to see the Chief Executive of New Zealand Rugby, Steve Tew, admit that they had handled an investigation of a recent sexual assault claim poorly. Sexual Abuse Prevention Network yesterday released a statement to the media highlighting the inadequacy of an ‘in-house’ investigation into the assault that occurred at an end of season Chiefs function. Tew last night acknowledged that “recent events show we [Rugby New Zealand] have not got it right.”

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network General Manager, Fiona McNamara, says: “It’s good to see that New Zealand Rugby has finally conceded that they handled this situation badly. We hope this means Rugby New Zealand will follow up with a robust review of policies and procedures around respectful relationships, as well as taking a critical look at the sport-wide culture towards consent.”

“We are disappointed to see that Steve Tew has continually insisted this morning that the allegations were not substantiated given that he accepted the internal investigation was mishandled. We also hope Mr Tew can appreciate that not being believed, and not being supported in judiciary systems, is a significant factor in why less than 9% of sexual assaults are ever reported to New Zealand Police. New Zealand Rugby’s focus needs to shift away from those results, and onto problems with respect within their institution.”

“We have reached out to Rugby New Zealand and offered consultation and training on sexual violence, respect and consent.”

“New Zealand rugby now has the opportunity to take the lead in transforming harmful culture in New Zealand sport.”

Chiefs ‘in-house’ investigation imitates society-wide power imbalances

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network is disappointed at Rugby New Zealand’s decision to conduct only an in-house investigation of the recent alleged sexual assault at an end of season Chief’s function.

The investigation came at the same time as a similar complaint from a woman working an end of season function the previous year, and Chiefs player Michael Allardice was witnessed making homophobic slurs at the same function as was subject to the current investigation. Sexual Abuse Prevention Network General Manager, Fiona McNamara, says “That all three of these incidents have been raised at once shows clearly that the Chiefs have a culture problem.”

“It was inappropriate for the investigation to be carried out by the General Legal Counsel for New Zealand Rugby. Scarlette was the final person interviewed as part of the investigation. This meant her full account could not inform the questions put to the 11 purportedly ‘independent’ witnesses.”

“The imbalanced power structures in this case imitate the larger, society-wide responses we see to sexual violence. Teams like the Chiefs, and other groups holding powerful positions in New Zealand, have the privilege of closing ranks around each other. They have access to powerful lawyers, public relations managers, and enjoy the ‘hero status’ of sports-people in New Zealand public. These privileges are not shared by Scarlette, or other victim-survivors of sexual violence.”

“That the team members received a ‘collective’ warning, rather than individual repercussions for their behaviour on the night of the function, illustrates perfectly how team culture – in sport particularly – can act to diminish personal accountability for gendered violence such as this. Further, the warning was regarding hiring a stripper for the event, rather than any abusive behaviour on the night. This takes the focus off promoting respectful treatment of women, and promotes the idea that people engaged in sex work are the source of the problem.”

“The actions of the team on the night have been variously called ‘a little slip up’, ‘boys being boys’ and ‘inevitable’, with blame being levelled at Scarlette as frequently as it has been at the players. What is most disheartening is that the Chiefs failed to take up an enormous opportunity to begin transforming toxic masculine culture in sports and rugby.”

A woman who was hired for the Chief’s end of season function as a stripper came out in days following stating that she had been subject to various incidents of abuse during the rugby team’s end-of-season function on 1 August at the Ōkoroire Hot Pools. The woman, who asked to be known as Scarlette, said some players indecently assaulted, threw gravel and chanted lewdly at her.

New Zealand Rugby Council investigated the incident, and decided to take no disciplinary action against the team, bar issuing a collective warning to the players.

Vinyl Bar employees undergo sexual violence prevention training, following criticism from patrons of handling of a sexual assault

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network yesterday facilitated a sexual violence prevention workshop for approximately 20 employees of Hospo Gurus.

Hospo Gurus manage five venues in Wellington, including Vinyl Bar on Courtenay Place.

‘It’s Our Business’ is a programme created specifically for hospitality staff and owners. It focusses on sexual violence awareness, bystander intervention, and creating a shared response plan should an event arise. Hospo Gurus contracted Sexual Abuse Prevention Network to deliver this training following a recent incident of sexual harassment at Vinyl Bar last month that sparked outrage on social media.

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network General Manager, Fiona McNamara says “It is great to see Hospo Gurus taking the events that occurred last month seriously. Not just the sexual harassment itself, but also their response to the incident in the following days.

“We know that alcohol is the most commonly used drug to facilitate sexual violence and that it is a factor in 50% of all sexual assaults in New Zealand. We also know many people have experienced and continue to experience sexual harassment in bars – so commonly that it is sometimes labelled ‘inevitable’.

“But it’s not. We need to stop tacitly permitting sexual violence – which is what we are doing when we fail to provide safe spaces for patrons, or when we don’t respond appropriately to incidents of sexual violence.

“Hospitality providers are part of the solution. We need bars that are consistently intolerant of sexual violence, and bar staff that are on the same page about how incidents of sexual harassment and violence should be treated. When we create positive consent cultures in these spaces, we see better outcomes for everyone who visits them.”

“Hospo Gurus has taken a valuable step in putting their staff through ‘It’s Our Business’. We hope to see all bars in Wellington (and everywhere else, too) follow suit.”

Leon Magowan-Wilson, one of the owners of Hospo Gurus says “We found the ‘It’s Our Business’ workshop extremely helpful in highlighting to our staff the sexual violence satiations that can be present in hospitality environments. The workshop was especially valuable in that it focused on specific ways in which we as hospitality operators should be treating potential future situations, as well as working towards developing a group-wide policy that commits all of us to wiping out sexual violence at our establishments. We strongly encourage other hospitality businesses to take advantage of this specialised training.”

SAPN on Back Benches

SAPN General Manager, Fiona, was on Back Benches last week talking about consent education in schools. You can watch the clip below to hear about the work we do with young people – as well as the perspectives of MPs from Labour, National and NZ First

Speech at “Stand Up for Women” event

A speech by SAPN General Manager, Fiona McNamara at the the “Stand Up for Women” event on Saturday 6 February 2016. The event was a counter protest against the “Return of the Kings” group, led by Roosh V, who planned to meet in Glover Park on that day.

Photo credit @nz_sim (via Twitter)

Tēnā koutou. I’m Fiona McNamara and I’m the General Manager of Sexual Abuse Prevention Network – an organisation governed by Wellington Rape Crisis, Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation and WellStop. We work with adults and youth to teach positive messages about healthy relationships and consent and teach skills to identify and prevent sexual violence.

This week I have spent a lot of time wondering, should we be giving any air time to these so-called “Return of the Kings” or should we ignore them? Should we give them publicity and notoriety? By talking about their harmful views on national television, on blogs and social media are we just giving a platform to one small group that would otherwise have been ignored? Will giving them publicity attract like-minded men or put ideas into people’s heads, grow the following and encourage copycat behaviour?

It would be easy to dismiss this group because it is hard to see how anyone can take these ideas seriously, but unfortunately, what these people are saying are not new ideas. We’re up against these ideas everyday. What we are here fighting today is not just about one man writing for his own website from a basement. It is about an issue that affects all parts of our society. An issue that is so widespread that it will touch each one of us personally in our lifetime. Sexual violence is at epidemic proportions in New Zealand and worldwide with 1 in 4 women, 1 in 6  men and 1 in 2 trans* people experiencing sexual violence in their life. 100% of incidents are preventable and each one of you here today is part of the solution.

What’s especially scary about the “Return of the Kings” is that this group decided that at this time, in our society in 44 countries they could actually get away with openly expressing this extreme hatred toward women, with advocating for rape and violence, with expressing overt homophobia, transphobia, and racism and that there would be no consequences.

They thought they could get away with this because they are not the only ones who hold these views and they are not the only ones expressing them. There has been huge outcry about what this particular group has been saying because they are saying it in a way that we cannot ignore. But what’s scarier to me than a small number of people on the internet is that these same ideas are everywhere, but because they are usually expressed more subtly, they often go unchecked. The harmful messages that this group is putting out there are the same messages that we see in music videos, song lyrics, TV shows, stand up comedy, comments shouted to women walking on the street, or laughed off as casual jokes in in the staffroom or at a party.

This week while much of our attention was focussed on the “Return of the Kings”, a female news reporter in New Zealand was assaulted on national television. The men who assaulted her said they were just playing a “friendly joke” and “Next time, have a male presenter when going into a Laneway festival”. And it  wasn’t just them brushing off their own behaviour – they were called “legends” by others on social media. Our communities are not just turning a blind eye to sexual assaults – they’re celebrating them.

I applaud each and every individual who has spoken up in some way against sexual violence this week. Our collective voices around the world have been louder than the hate group and as a result they have realised that this is something that society as a whole will not stand for and their events have been called off.

The next step is to identify and call out these same ideas and behaviours when they are presented in a less obvious way.

The solution to this problem lies with  all of us. The specialist sexual violence sector is small and we need the whole community to consistently speak out against harmful messages and harmful behaviour and to promote positive messages. We need to keep up the momentum of this week and keep the pressure on. Sexual violence is not inevitable and those of you here can lead this change.

We can all do something to contribute to ending sexual violence.

  • Call people up on bad behavior. If your mate is pursuing someone who is clearly too intoxicated to consent – pull them aside and let them know this is not OK. If they’re really into that person, they can wait until they’re sober.
  • If you think someone you know might be in an unsafe relationship, be their friend. Make it clear that you will be there if they need your support.
  • If you hear someone joke about rape or sexual abuse – tell them that this trivializes and normalises unacceptable behaviour. It can also isolate the survivors, making it harder for them ever to disclose their abuse.
  • If you hear comments that stereotype women as passive and indicate that men should be persistent to get what they want – then say that such attitudes undermine women’s sexuality and ignore consent, encouraging men to pressure women into doing things that they don’t want to.
  • Call up transphobic and queerphobic comments and behaviours as discrimination against diverse genders and sexualities is dehumanising and contributes to the high incidence of sexaul violence for these groups.
  • Don’t stand for marginalising anyone in our community – say something about racism, ableism and ageism.
  • Bring an analysis of gender and sexuality stereotypes into conversations with people who don’t think about these topics every day. Encourage people to be critical of the messages they see on TV or hear in music.

Sexual abuse and sexual violence exist on a continuum and a culture in which some individuals are valued above others is a breeding ground for serious abuse. We all need to call up harmful behaviours. As we’ve seen this week, if we all take a stand, we can drown out those harmful messages and shift the conversation.

By coming here today you have taken the first step and made the call that you are someone who won’t stand for abuse and violence. Keep the conversation going in your own communities, support your friends when they need it and continue to speak out.

Photo credit @nz_sim (via Twitter)

Note that the men at Laneways who are referenced here have since apologised

Reflection on Rizalman’s sentencing today

There is an enormous amount of relevant content in the news today. But we thought it was worth making a particular note of Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail’s sentencing – read the news report here.

In short, a sentence of 9 months home detention has been handed down in answer to a “sexually motivated indecent assault”.

Rather than focussing on the length of the sentence, we’re querying the overall goal of the sentence.

People prescribe to different views on what sentencing should achieve. Viewed as punishment, this sentence might make sense (although, it’s obvious that on the spectrum of available measures, this sentence is most certainly on the lenient side). The sentence might make more sense as a deterrent – presuming Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail doesn’t want to be confined to a house for 9 months, he might refrain from committing indecent assaults on strangers in the future (strong emphasis on ‘he might’). As a bid at incapacitation, this sentence makes about ¼ sense. Sure, he’s incapacitated from literally attacking people in their homes – for 9 months.

The deeply disappointing thing about the sentence is that is doesn’t go anywhere near actually changing this man’s mind about women or their rights to bodily autonomy. It does not address his delusion that a smile from a passing stranger is a sexual advance. It steers a wide berth from challenging an underlying belief that he is entitled to prioritise his (illegal) desires at the absolute expense of others.

The survivor, Tania Billingsley, said it most eloquently herself. Louise Nicholas, as a key support person to Tania, conveyed that she is disappointed the sentence did not include a treatment programme for sex-offending. Further, Tania hopes that he has the opportunity to undertake rehabilitative services during his home detention sentence “for the safety of others and also his own wellbeing”.

‘For the safety of others and also his own well-being’ is probably the best description of what the aim of this sentence *should* be. And it speaks to a wider societal problem we have when addressing sexual violence. The truth, as Tania has alluded to, is that we won’t see a decline in sexual offending until we start recognising that problematic behaviours start with problematic beliefs. To stop this sort of crime, we need to work at changing those beliefs. That means investing in primary prevention programmes, in rehabilitation programmes for offenders, in workshops that shows parents how to raise their kids to be respectful partners, in professional development for teachers to role-model healthy relationships.

It means doing something more than just making Rizalman stay put in a house for 9 months.

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network says we need to address “lower level” harmful behavior before it becomes extreme “neomasculinism”  

Media release for immediate release 02.02.2015

A ‘neomasculinist’ group is planning worldwide meetups on 6 February, including in Wellington, Auckland and Dunedin.

The group, led by American Daryush Valizadeh “Roosh V,” cites extremist views, advocating for the superiority of straight men and encouraging followers to rape women.

Sexual Abuse Prevention Network General Manager, Fiona McNamara, says “It would be easy to dismiss this group because it is hard to see how anyone can take these ideas seriously, but unfortunately they have managed to build up tens of thousands of online followers.”

“While this group represents a small section of society, these extreme views are built on mainstream culture that supports them. Attitudes and beliefs that seem lower level such as jokes or comments contribute to an environment in which extremist views such as these can exist. We need to make sure we are calling up unacceptable behaviour before it reaches this stage.”

“Groups like this show that a small number of individuals hold disturbing views, but we know that wider society does not. The vast majority of people do not believe in ‘neomasculinism’ but there are less extreme harmful attitudes that are widespread and need to be addressed.  Sexual Abuse Prevention Network has a high demand from our communities for healthy relationship and intervention skills education. We need more conversations in our communities that promote healthy relationships so that there are clear positive alternatives to harmful behaviour.”

This is the first time that in person meet-ups have been arranged, with Valizadeh citing on his website that the group’s views are now known enough that they “do not have to hide behind a computer screen for fear of retaliation.”

The group is also aware of the possibility of counter protests and says that if any “crazy feminists” show up that they should be filmed and the films sent to Roosh V so they can “tear them up”.