Thursday, March 08, 2007

Things to do today

Today, March 8th, is International Women's Day, on which the world celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women. This year's theme is Ending Impunity for Violence against Women and Girls - one particularly relevant in New Zealand at the moment in the wake of the police rape trials. There are events around the country - Amnesty International is organising local vigils with Women's Refuge - but three that people might be particularly interested in are:

Auckland: March against police rape. 19:00, Aotea Square
Wellington: March to demand justice for rape survivors. 17:30, Civic Square
Christchurch: vigil. 19:30, Cathedral Square.

I don't agree with the legal changes being demanded at these protests - but I agree absolutely with their demand that the police not tolerate rape or sexual violence by their members, and that culture of impunity clearly present in the 80's and 90's be stamped out for good.

Maia has more here.


It would be dangerous to suport protests (or revolutions) based on agreement regarding vage opposition to somthing bad, despite disagreement with specifics. Im sure you can think of lots of times in history that doing that has gone VERY badly wrong.


Posted by Anonymous : 3/08/2007 06:39:00 PM

Genius: Well, I also support people's right to protest about whatever takes their mind, no matter what I think of it. In this case, the protestors are also saying some things I agree with - that Rickards is unfit to wear a police uniform, and that the police must properly investigate cases of sexual violence rather than shoving complainants away (as they did on camera tonight in Wellington - way to go, guys). So, I'll support them for those bits, and voice my disagreement on the parts I disagree on.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/08/2007 11:16:00 PM

My perception was that there was quite a range of views on the police issue at the Auckland protest. One speaker who basically said that we shouldn't have a police force was actively booed by some of the crowd, and certainly there were others around me who weren't booing but didn't agree.

I think basically what we all had in common was our outrage at the continuing culture of rape and violence, and particularly the seeming inability of the courts to be places of justice for rape survivors. While there was a lot of anger against the police force as a whole, and Rickards, Schollum and Shipton in particular, in Auckland there was recognition from a number of speakers that not all cops are bad, and varying opinions about the need for substantial change to our police system.

Posted by Span : 3/09/2007 01:06:00 AM

Yeah, I dont oppose their right to walk down the street or even shout and chant and generally get all worked up within the bounds of the law. everyone from communists to 'save the trees on Queen Street' people have a right to do that.

>as they did on camera tonight in Wellington - way to go, guys.

I did not see it, but wasn't that a set-up? If so is it not disingenious to bring it up like this?

Posted by Anonymous : 3/09/2007 07:10:00 AM

Anon: It was on both channels - the screaming woman being pushed away from the doors in Wellington was trying to get someone to accept her written statement of what had been done to her.

Now, of course it was being presented at that time as part of the protest. But for the police to refuse to accept it for that reason demonstrates part of the problem. They owe equal protection under the law (and a thorough investigation of complaints) to everyone, regardless of circumstance. Picking and choosing and refusing to accept complaints from people they don't like is what led Shipton and Schollum (and possibly Rickards) get away with it for so long.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/09/2007 08:41:00 AM

"the continuing culture of rape and violence"

I'm not saying it's all flowers and fairy-dust, but isn't this a tad melodramatic.

Surely the ultimate evidence of police support for rape victims is that they've pursued prosecutions against senior cops for matters 20+ years ago, gotten convictions in two cases and in another two trials, despite having little admissible evidence, not necessarily legally reliable complainants, and very low prospects of success kept at it?

Despite these matters, that objectively they must have known the would be going up hill the whole way against Rickards in particular, they thought, subjectively, we believe these victims, and are going to charge anyway - whatever the impact on the defendants of facing such weak charges of such serious offending.

This should be all the evidence the protesters need that the police are better now (and instead turn their anger on the Courts and Parliament in a campaign to allow prior convictions as evidence - something I'm confident in which they'd have police support, as they do in their dislike of Rickards, Schollum and Shipton).

Posted by Graeme Edgeler : 3/09/2007 09:54:00 AM

Graeme, I have heard far far too many stories of women who have suffered rapes and assaults getting a negative response from police to believe it's all sunshine now.

It wasn't that long ago that a drunken police officer confronted a group of women (waiting for someone to be released from an education protest arrest) outside Wellington Central Police Station and told them that if they ever get raped they shouldn't bother reporting it to the police because he would see that nothing was done.

Yes that's a bad egg. Yet another one. Either the police force is attracting them or it is nurturing them (or both). It needs to change.

And not just for reasons of sexism either - I have vague recollections of a post by Apathy Jack a while back about racist attitudes within the force too.

Posted by Span : 3/09/2007 01:28:00 PM

> Now, of course it was being presented at that time as part of the protest.

do you mean it was not part of the protest? if so that is a concidence...

> Picking and choosing and refusing to accept complaints from people they don't like

are you saying they have refused to ever take her complaint? I would think that would get them fired faster than you can blink.

I'm under the impression that those cops were just not mandated to take statements at that time. Maybe she should have phoned the 111 number. Presumably it is reasonable for not all cops to be taking statements all of the time. Imagine if you had to stop chasing an armed robber if a woman on the side of the road waved you down with a "take my statement" sign.

> getting a negative response from police to believe it's all sunshine now.

Im sure it isn't. Im sure there are lots of policemen out there that we would all benefit from them being locked up in a small hole somwhere - but you actually have to clearly identify them first.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/09/2007 07:39:00 PM

anon, one of the major aspects of rape which makes it so horrific is the loss of power. To have the police deny you even the power of making a complaint when you want to is to exacerbate that abuse. The police could have handled this differently, they could have handled it sensitively. They chose not to, and then one of their inspectors later labelled this woman's attempt to complain as a "publicity stunt". Way to change the public perception of the treatment of rape complaints...

Posted by Span : 3/10/2007 11:53:00 AM


was it not a "publicity stunt"? I expect she probably had a valid complaint, but I also expect that she intentionally did not make the complaint at the first possible opportunity inorder to position herself where she could place the police in a situation that she knew no normal person would be able to deal with in the right way.

(there are two parts to that first that her primary objective is not solving the rape - it is instead raising the profile of rape, and secondly that she KNEW that no normal person would be 'sensitive' in that situation, if she thought they would she also would not have done it)

One of the aspects of protest is to exert power over others.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/10/2007 12:14:00 PM

Can I say, from the right, if there was a publicity stunt being pulled at that demo it was the 'thin pink line' of policewomen that (surprise!) got a lot of media play.

I don't think it really says much about how seriously women officers are regarded inside the Police when they're wheeled out as window dressing.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 3/11/2007 12:10:00 PM


Did it help to achieve the purposes of the police or not? even the protesters seem to agree it too heat out of the protest and the women did the job of holding the line as well as the men could have - maybe better.

If I was going to select an employee to deal with you in business I'd be an idiot to choose one who looked like a guy who raped you. I expect if I did that the deal would end badly.

If they had presented an all male front line the guy who organized it should have been sacked (ok formal warning for incompetence).


Posted by Anonymous : 3/11/2007 01:00:00 PM


Perhaps I'm showing my age, but I sure knew some feminists back in the day who could summon up more protest vitriol for Jenny Shipley and Ruth Richardson than they ever mustered for any of the boys in the 90's. Personally, if I'd been raped by a cop I'd be fucking livid to see a woman in uniform getting in my face. But that's just me - and I'm in no position to speak for anyone who was on that march.

You may well be right, and now calming women officers will be pulling crowd control at every protest rally from now on, and taking over the Armed Offenders and Diplomatic Protection Squads. I just reserve the right to remain sceptical.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 3/11/2007 05:57:00 PM

I think both the police and the protesters said the strategy worked.
If it works or does not is somthing that police should test over a number of situations and take appropriate action on.

Posted by Anonymous : 3/11/2007 09:26:00 PM

The Anon above who responded to my comment about the "publicity stunt" label,

You're making a lot of assumptions there about the motivations of the woman involved and the protest organisers. I'm not prepared to do that, perhaps because I am more sympathetic to that woman?

Complaining about rape is a very hard thing to do. It's even harder when the people you have to complain to are also in the same job, the same uniform, as the person who raped you. I would have hoped that when the rape survivor decided they were ready to complain then the police would be able to respond appropriately. On Thursday they didn't.

And Craig R, I totally agree with you about the publicity stunt thing. When I first saw the article in the Herald and just skimmed it I just assumed that the quote "publicity stunt" attached to the all-woman police line.

I think it's good to see more female police. And it's good to see them policing protests. I think it probably made a difference on Thursday (although I wasn't there). But if this is as far as it goes, if tokenism is as deep as the change gets, then it isn't enough.

Posted by Span : 3/11/2007 10:20:00 PM

I am sympathetic to a person who has been raped (who isnt!), but I still think that assuming it is a "publicity stunt" is one of the least ambitious assumptions I have made.

as I noted I expect the police or anyone else to respond to any situation in a variety of ways depending on the context. If the woman is unable to get a hearing (in the big scheme of things) that would be somthing to be outraged about.

If she has to wait till the police dont have more urgent things (urgent but less important - note they are different things) eg when
there isn't a protest, or a police chase or whatever going on at that particular moment then it is not a problem (except possibly an argument to hire more police).


Posted by Anonymous : 3/20/2007 08:39:00 PM