by Jan Logie
I’m very happy to help spread the word on this and would urge all of you to please make a submission. Please share this link around social media and get as many of your friends as possible to also participate. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of the appalling rates of sexual violence in this country. This is our collective opportunity to start making the system fairer for survivors/victims.
Auckland Sexual Abuse HELP have put together a website that gives you the opportunity to get involved and explains why it’s so important that alternative trial processes for sexual violence cases are introduced.
Here’s some key information that I found on the site that really resonates:
The government asked the Law Commission to review making the court system fairer, more effective and more efficient. To do it we need as many people as possible to let Hon Judith Collins know that they support the changes that are recommended by the NZ Law Commission in their report “Alternative Trial Processes”.
This is a once in a life time opportunity to make the Criminal Justice System (CJS) different. The CJS for sexual violence must change. This is an investment in the future of all those who are harmed by sexual violence. This could improve their chances of finding justice and reduce the risk of being re-victimised and re-traumatised through the CJS. It will also support holding offenders accountable and reducing the risk of re-offending.
If she (Judith Collins) knew me and what I’ve gone through being sexually abused as a child and then going through the current justice system, how could she not want change!!!!!!!!!!! I want to convince you that the change needs to happen. You have to look at this from the point of view of someone who’s actually been through it.
I wouldn’t recommend going through the current criminal justice system, you have to be superwoman. I feel like I need to grab every single person in this country and shake their head. You need to look at it like it’s your mother, your brother, your sister, people need to connect to this personally to understand the importance.
Nicki Tongs: Survivor of Childhood Sexual abuse and a court trial in September 2011 ending with a guilty verdict and still disillusioned
Many New Zealanders have been sexually assaulted/abused. Some report to the police and go onto court. Occasionally the offender pleads guilty which avoids a court trial. For the majority that do proceed to court, survivor/victims have to give evidence at a trial in front of 12 jury members, the judge, defence lawyer, crown prosecutor and a number of other court workers.
This has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life, especially in front of a group of strangers [jury] who I may bump into sometime in the future
Male survivor in court trial in April 2012 ending in guilty verdict
I have been through the criminal justice system 7 times in my life as a victim/survivor of rape and you would think that after the first couple of times things would be a lot easier, but sadly this is not the case in fact for me it just got harder. The brutality of this system as it stands leaves a person feeling totally humiliated and overwhelmed as very personal details are bandied all over the courtroom which also re-traumatises survivors as we have to relive in detail what has happened to us. This leads us to feel unsafe and absolutely shattered mentally, physically and emotionally for very long periods. The recommendations from the Law Commissions review into the trial process is a huge step into ensuring survivors safety and wellbeing but above all I believe it is a much fairer way of seeking the truth about what happened which is so very important for all concerned including that of the accused. We have an opportunity to improve a very archaic and unsafe justice system for survivors of sexual violence, let’s ensure the powers that be hear us very loudly and very clearly, changes need to be made.
Louise Nicholas: National Survivor Advocate
I feel mortally ashamed of our criminal justice system. I think how can we all be sitting here sanctioning this state voyeurism and re-victimisation? At times I have felt so despondent that I have considered resigning from my position as court support counsellor. I have not wanted to be part of this charade. What holds me in there is my determination to give survivor/victims a fighting chance by giving them a thorough understanding of the court process.
Jennifer Annan, Auckland Sexual Abuse Help, Court Support Counsellor
It is important you listen to those who have experienced the trauma and re-victimisation of it. If you have the misfortune of finding yourself in it, you too will experience the appalling consequences of it. Please support the changes recommended by the Law Commission and let the government know that we must have change now, not in 10 years’ time. Every woman/man/youth/child that enters the CJS as it currently is will have an incredibly onerous journey before them. It shouldn’t be this hard.
Supported by Auckland Sexual Abuse Help, Contact Jennifer Annan, email firstname.lastname@example.org