In 2007, the Herald named Louise Nicholas New Zealander of the Year for her brave exposure of police violence against women.
However, as I blogged a couple of weeks ago, female victims of “police misconduct” like Louise have been told they will not be compensated.
This week they also witnessed the edifying sight of former senior sergeant Dave Archibald’s promotion to a senior management role at the Police College despite his compromising involvement with the Brad Shipton case (he was caught accessing the police computer to pass on information that might help with Shipton’s defence). This nightmare seems to have no end for these women.
This latest evidence of the police force not taking this issue to heart is deeply disturbing for all women. It highlights that a culture change is still incomplete. It reinforces our feelings of vulnerability about those who are supposed to protect our rights. With outrageously bad domestic violence statistics in this country the last thing we need is a police force which promotes men connected with pack rape cases by policemen.
Earlier this year I attended the Women’s Refuge Annual Appeal launch, and what struck me most was the depressing need to endlessly repeat the message. Why is male violence endemic across so many cultures and families including from the rich, middle class and the poor? Why did the Minister of Justice tell me that protection orders are free when to make one stick you have to be eligible for legal aid or pay a lawyer? Why is violence by men against women now called “family violence”? Of course there is violence from women too, towards both men and children, but it’s not as culturally endemic.
On the positive side it is great that Turanga Nui a Kiwa Women’s Refuge is supporting a safehouse for men in Gisborne, which provides a space for men who have been removed from the home because of violence. They also need somewhere to go where they will be supported to change. I strongly support this initiative, so long as resources still go to protecting women and children and the police culture actually has changed.
The change will come when all men challenge the abusers to step up and “old Pat” the patriarchy finally clicks to the concept that a fair and peaceful society is better for everyone!