Horror In Paradise

Global outrage is growing against a Maldives court’s verdict announced on February 26, 2013 to flog a 15-year-old girl who was originally a victim of rape and sexual abuse. She now faces 100 lashes in public which will be administered when she turns 18.

More than two million people have signed a petition created by the campaign website Avaaz.org, urging Maldivian authorities to protect the girl and end the practice of flogging of women and children for sex outside marriage. The petition also threatens to hit at the country’s tourism industry until President Mohamed Waheed acts.

The girl has been a victim of sexual abuse dating back to 2009 and consecutive governments have failed to protect her, according to a report by Minivan News.

The court sentenced her to 100 lashes and 8 months of house arrest for confessing to a separate case – not related to the rape – of consensual sex with a man. She was first taken for questioning in 2012 when a dead baby was found buried inside her family compound. Her stepfather has been charged with murdering her baby and child sexual abuse while her mother has been charged with concealing the sexual abuse.


Sign the petition here


Legislative Change ‘Fundamental’ To Halting Gender Violence, Lawmakers Tell UN Event

Press Release by United Nations at 10:11AM, 06 Mar 2013

The importance of strong laws against sexual, domestic and other gender violence was highlighted today as members of parliaments from around the world gathered on the sidelines of the annual session of the United Nations women’s commission on its second day.

“Legislative change is fundamental to halting the violence epidemic, and it is you, the representatives of the people, who can make it happen and make a real difference for women and girls,” the Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Michelle Bachelet, said at a side event of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

This focus of this year’s session is ending violence against women and girls. According to UN Women, up to 70 per cent of women in some countries face physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. In addition, some 140 million girls have suffered female genital mutilation and millions more are subjected to forced marriage and trafficking.

At today’s event, also addressed by the President of the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) and other legislative figures, Ms. Bachelet welcomed the fact that two-thirds of countries have legislation criminalizing domestic violence.

She stressed, however, that the current framework is far from adequate.

“All countries should have legislation that penalizes violence against women in all spheres and all forms of violence,” she said, adding that “parliaments must identify gaps and amend weak legislation.”

She noted proposals for strengthening Indian laws on sexual assault made by a Government panel after the horrific rape and death of a young woman and the tremendous public outrage that followed.

The new proposals will go a long way in strengthening Indian laws, she said, because they currently prohibit acts that “outrage a woman’s modesty,” but do not define specific off-limit behaviours.

“So I urge all of you to review and strengthen laws in your countries to end violence against women,” she said.

Parliamentarians, she added, could also use their good offices to bring police, prosecutors, judges, health care providers, social workers and religious and community leaders on board to ensure that laws were enforced.

“Ending violence against women requires the full engagement of all sectors of society,” she stressed.

Among other events under the CSW umbrella today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with heads of UN agencies on the issue of boosting coordination to fight violence against women and girls.

Mr. Ban said that he launched the campaign called “UNiTE to End Violence against Women” in 2008 because, among other necessities, women need to live free of fear and girls need to safely enjoy their right to education.

“These are basic rights. The United Nations must do all it can to make them facts of life,” he said.

Kiwis present at largest UN forum on ending violence against women and children

Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls” is the priority theme of the event, and it’s 10 years since a session of the Commission on the Status of Women has focused on this. 


Te Ohaakii a Hine National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together (TOAHNNEST) Tauiwi Caucus is pleased that New Zealand has joined a United Nations initiative pledge to take action to end violence against women and girls.

At the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, Women’s Affairs Minister Jo Goodhew announced New Zealand’s pledge under UN Women initiative, COMMIT, to take steps to ensure women and girls are able to lead violence-free lives.

By making this pledge New Zealand joined 46 other Governments around the world who have promised to take action to end violence against women and girls through COMMIT.

Several TOAHNNEST representatives have self-funded to attend the UN 57th Commission on the Status of Women with the focus on the elimination of violence against women and girls. They have joined the record 6,000 NGO and government delegates determined to stop the worldwide epidemic of violence against women and children.

One of the TOAHNNEST Tauiwi delegates in New York Dr Kim McGregor said “I am hopeful that because the New Zealand government has made the promise to take action to end violence against women and girls, it will follow through by ensuring there are adequate resources for sexual violence support services many of which are currently struggling to provide vital specialist services to their communities”.

Approximately one in four girls and one in eight boys in New Zealand are likely to experience sexual violence. Treasury estimates sexual violence is the country’s most costly crime.

Worldwide an estimated 150 million girls under 18 suffer some form of sexual violence each year.

TOAHNNEST representatives from both the Maori caucus (Nga Kaitiaki Mauri) and the Tauiwi caucus are sharing their knowledge about sexual violence prevention and interventions strategies and are learning about initiatives from other countries.

TOAHNNEST participated in a presentation alongside Womens Refuge, Pacific Island Safety and Prevention Project and Shakti about unique indigenous, non indigenous and Pasifika approaches to end violence against women and girls. The presentation was a great success with standing room only and glowing comments from several participants about the wairua (spirit) that was present in the panel presentation.

Louise Nicholas, National Survivor Advocate representative on TOAHNNEST Tauiwi Caucus, who is also attending says “I am really impressed with how some countries’ governments are supporting their specialist sexual violence service initiatives and I look forward to working even more closely with the New Zealand Government to ensure that our survivors of sexual violence receive the best support and service that they deserve.”

Maggy Tai Rakena another TOAH-NNEST Tauiwi delegate says ” I am delighted to have the opportunity to attend CSW57 to learn how other nations respond to the worldwide scourge of sexual violence and l look forward to sharing some of these initiatives with NZ service providers.”



International News – Duchess of Cornwall – supporting survivors of rape and sexual abuse

5th Feb 2013

The Duchess of Cornwall hosted a reception in support of survivors of rape and sexual abuse at Clarence House.

The Duchess organised the reception to bring together political figures, rape support groups and rape survivors.

She spoke to those present of the importance of forming a united front to help victims of rape and sexual abuse and

the need to end the taboo surrounding rape and sexual abuse, adding “perhaps from this small beginning, we will be able to

build a future where society will simply not tolerate rape and sexual abuse any longer”


Survivors and others attending stated the Duchess’s contribution was positive,  and you could tell she felt very passionately about the issue.

She had shown a level of commitment to this area, and her high profile had helped make possible a meeting focused solely on this issue

by a  wide range of representatives from various UK groups.


Death of 23 yr old student in India as result of gang rape, results in World-wide petition

Petition by

Namita Bhandare

New Delhi, India


Pranab Mukherjee, President of India

Chief Justice of India, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India

The gang-rape of a 23-year-old student in a moving bus on the night of December 16 in the capital city of Delhi has triggered anger, outrage and shock amongst every citizen this country.The National Crime Records Bureau records 572 rapes reported from Delhi for the year 2011. This year 635 rapes had already been reported as of December 15, 2012, Rape is not a problem that afflicts Delhi alone. In recent months, we have seen a rising crime graph against women being reported from virtually every corner of the country including Haryana, Kerala and Bangalore.Each time a rape is reported, civil society reacts with anger and outrage, which unfortunately dies down and is forgotten, until the next time. The question to ask: what is the inflexion point? At what stage do we say collectively and in one voice: Enough.

Many solutions have been offered in the light of this particular gang-rape and in the past. Some of these include:

1. The setting up of fast track courts (as in Rajasthan recently) to ensure speedy trials.
2. The imposition of maximum, exemplary sentence.
3. The immediate clearing of all pending cases involving crimes against women.
4. Immediate training and sensitisation of police force to crimes against women, including domestic violence, molestation and sexual assault.
5. The immediate passage of pending bills that seek to protect women, including the Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at the Workplace Bill 2012 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2012
6. Consultations with the Ministry of Human Resources to see how best to address the issue of sensitising boys through the school curriculum.
7. National-level, open consultations involving civil society and other stake-holders on how best to tackle the growing misogyny and hostility against women as well as rising crimes against them.
8. Ensuring safe public transport for all citizens by installing CCTVs and conducting due diligence of employees including bus drivers, cleaners etc.

Despite having so many women in positions of political leadership, a survey by TrustLaw found India to be ranked as the worst country in the world for women. At a time when women are increasingly claiming their rightful share of half the sky and asserting their autonomy and independence, the rising crimes against them are conducted with absolute impunity by criminals who have no fear of the law.

We are writing to you in the hope that you will direct government and judiciary to take special note of the escalation of gender violence and work together on a priority basis to implement the measures detailed above.

Lack of gender justice, lack of fear of the law, police and judicial apathy, failure of governance and shrinking public spaces is a matter of grave concern, not just for women but for every citizen of this country.

[Your name]

NZ faith communities release statement on family violence

More than 40 leaders from New Zealand faith communities have released a joint statement on family violence. It includes that the faith leaders commit their communities to:

  • Accept our responsibility to stand up for our children, women and families.
  • Refuse to tolerate violence within our families or communities or turn a blind eye to it.
  • Strive to provide places of safety and nurture for the children and families of our community.
  • Encourage our communities to report family violence, hold perpetrators accountable and provide support for victims.
  • Ensure that our staff are trained to respond safely to family violence and are well supported with appropriate policies and resources.
  • Partner with community organisations to ensure that families experiencing violence are referred appropriately and we will advocate with government for policies and resources to address family violence.

Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills helped to bring the group together. He said the initiative sent an important message because men often used religious scriptures to justify violence.

“In my practice [as a children’s doctor] I still see parents who use their faith as justification for men, particularly men, hitting their wives and parents hitting their children. They claim it’s sanctioned by their faith and that it’s their right,” he said.

“I know that the faiths don’t condone or believe that, so what the statement does is it draws a line under that. It says in the most public way possible that no faith in New Zealand condones violence towards women or children.