The cost of domestic violence

November 11th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Sir Owen Glenn’s family violence inquiry has stumbled again, producing a $7 billion estimated cost of family violence based on the mis-reading of a key research paper.

A report by economist Suzanne Snively and Wellington theatre student Sherilee Kahui, published by the inquiry yesterday, said family violence cost New Zealand between $4.1 billion and $7 billion a year – up from Ms Snively’s last estimate in 1994 of just $1 billion.

But the higher figure of $7 billion was based on a claim that 23.6 per cent of women born in Christchurch in 1977 suffered intimate partner violence in the year leading up to interviews when they were 25 in about 2002.

That figure in the original paper published in 2005 by the Christchurch Health and Development Study actually refers to the number of men as well as women who scored 3 or 4 points on a violence victimisation scale for intimate partner violence.

Two-thirds of people in the study scored below 3 points and 9.4 per cent scored above 4 points.

Those scoring 3 or 4 points were described in the original paper as “predominantly a group of individuals reporting frequent minor psychological aggression and occasionally severe psychological aggression”, but “none reported any of the signs of severe domestic violence [injury or fearfulness]”.

So that would mean the estimate is around three times as large as it should be.

NZ does have a woeful record with domestic violence. I have a particular loathing for it. But reports that use such inflated figures probably damage the cause they are trying to assist with.

Personally I’m not very interested in the economic cost of domestic violence. It is the personal cost to those involved which is terrible.


Family violence funding

July 27th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The former director of Sir Owen Glenn’s family violence inquiry has produced her own solution without waiting for the inquiry to finish its work.

Ruth Herbert, whose resignation last year almost destroyed Sir Owen’s $2 million inquiry, has written her own 155-page report advocating an integrated “one door, right door” system to replace an approach she sees as “broken, fragmented and inconsistent”.

She and her co-author, former Auckland regional family violence network co-ordinator Deborah Mackenzie, say their integrated system would add $22 million to the $70 million the state already spends on 774 separate family violence services.

But they believe it would save many times that amount in social and economic costs by reducing family violence.

First of all a better integrated network of family violence service providers seems a very sensible thing, and the cost doesn’t seem prohibitive. I’ve not yet read the report, but Ruth Herbert has a solid background of expertise in this area.

I would caution though that it does seem to be focused a bit on helping victims after violence has occurred, and the far tougher challenge is to try and never have family violence occur in the first place.


Domestic violence crimes

July 14th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An ‘attempted strangulation’ charge may be introduced by Justice Minister Judith Collins in a bid to tackle domestic violence.

The act of attempted strangulation is often a precursor to murder in domestic violence situations, the minister said, and it needed to be treated more seriously.

“One of the suggestions from the family violence group that’s been looking at it, is that we bring in a new law around attempted strangulation,” she told TV One’s Q+A programme.

“So when we’ve got people who are being strangled and partly strangled in their home, that is an indicator that the person who’s doing it is actually going to go on and kill them. And we need to treat that much more seriously than we do.”

Such a crime on the books seems a useful, albeit, sad thing. I guess a case can be made for attempted murder to be the charge in all such cases but proving beyond reasonable doubt that a strangulation was going to continue and kill would be difficult often.  But with attempted strangulation you won’t need to prove what the final intent was, just that some strangulation occurred.

Most domestic violence penalties were tough enough to deal with the crime, Ms Collins said, with perpetrators being treated “as anybody else” on charges such as murder or grievous bodily harm. But a charge of male assaults female may not be reflective of the seriousness of the crime.

I think that crime should be removed from the books. We should have a range of assaults defined in law, but they should be defined based on the seriousness of the assault, not on the gender of the assailant and victim.


Fighting domestic violence

July 3rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Government has announced to combat domestic violence. They include:

  • Establishing a Chief Victims Advisor to the Minister of Justice to advise on the needs and views of victims of crime, including domestic violence victims.
  • Testing an intensive case management service to provide specialist support for domestic violence victims at high risk of serious harm or death. 
  • Establishing a nationwide home safety service to help victims who want to leave a violent relationship. The service will offer practical support such as safety planning, strengthening doors and windows and installing alarms.
  • Reviewing the Domestic Violence Act 1995 to ensure it keeps victims safe and holds offenders to account.
  • Exploring the possibility of a conviction disclosure scheme, which may allow a person to be told whether their partner has a history of violence.
  • Trialling mobile safety alarms with GPS technology for victims, so they can notify Police of an emergency, and their location.
  • Introduce legislation to change the Sentencing Act, which will allow courts to stipulate GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders who can’t currently have this condition imposed upon them.

I think the last one especially could make a real difference. What I would do is allow the person who has a protection order to be alerted (and the Police also) if a convicted offender who has a protection order gets within x hundred metres of their house.

The Government will also explore whether prosecutors should be able to invite the judge or jury to draw an adverse inference when a defendant refuses to give evidence in sexual violence cases. Current law only allows the defendant, the defendant’s lawyer or the Judge to comment on a defendant’s failure to give evidence.

I’m not in favour of having a different standard of rights for some criminal cases.

To remind us of how real domestic violence can be, former National MP Jackie Blue writes of her experiences:

Dr Blue’s experience began 31 years ago, when she was 27. She had just graduated and was working as a locum in Auckland surgeries.

She had had to repeat two years of her medical degree, partly because she had taken up bridge and was busy playing in tournaments.

“I felt I was the dumbest doctor in New Zealand,” she said. “I had low self-esteem, and I was probably overweight too, and I didn’t think I was attractive.”

She met a small business owner, nine years older, who “totally charmed me”.

“He made me feel quite special, put me on a pedestal,” she said. “I had never really had a long-term boyfriend at that stage. He was my boyfriend and I could say that, and he was reasonably presentable and reasonably sociable to the outside world, so you know, it was a good match.”

He gave her jewellery and other gifts. He moved into her home and gave her a blue sapphire engagement ring.

But his business was struggling.

“If anything, I supported him,” Dr Blue said. “I paid the groceries and things like that. He didn’t pay any rent.”

He took bridge lessons, but he didn’t like it and he made her stop playing too.

That is probably the first warning sign. It is very common for abusers to try and control their partner’s lifes, and only have them do activities they are involved with. Their aim is to make them dependent on you. People should bail out at this early stage, if their partner is controlling like that.

“So I moved away from the bridge circle of friends that I had,” she said. “His friends became my friends.”

Another classic sign, sadly.

After a few months they visited Napier to stay with Dr Blue’s sister and her husband, a doctor. “They had one of those really big old homes,” Dr Blue said. “They had a lot of antique furniture, really nice stuff, so the place looked really opulent.

“We were in bed on one of those evenings and I was talking, and he just bashed me on the side of the head for no reason. He clearly felt really threatened by the surroundings.”

It’s very sad what happened to Jackie (and many others). I also feel a bit sad for the guy that he is so threatened by success, that he resorts to violence to cover up his own inadequacies.

He started putting her down with comments like: “You’re fat and ugly and you’ll never have children.” 

This is also a very sad and common warning sign. Their aim is to make you feel you’ll never get anyone else, and so will tolerate them bashing you.

The breaking point was a barbecue where people asked Dr Blue about her job. “They were just asking about the work I did and they were quite interested, interested in me,” she said.

“On the way home we were driving into the carport, he picked a fight, I was driving, and he just bashed me on the side of my face quite a few times.

“I walked in and told him to clear out, bugger off. I phoned the police.”

He left. Police came promptly, but she decided not to lay charges. “I just wanted the whole thing finished.”

He tried to revive it, ringing her and sending flowers to the Herne Bay surgery where she had become a partner. But he got nowhere and eventually moved to Australia.

Just weeks after the relationship ended, Dr Blue met the man who is now her husband. 

A happy ending for Jackie, but many others end in death.


Having to prove your innocence ruled out

June 18th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Justice Minister Judith Collins has ruled out reversing the burden of proof in domestic violence cases – one of the key recommendations in the first report of the Glenn Inquiry.

It was a suggestion, not a recommendation, but still good to have it ruled out.

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Proving your innocence – get f***ed

June 16th, 2014 at 3:37 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Sir Owen Glenn’s independent inquiry into family violence suggests shifting the burden of proof in “domestic” cases so that alleged perpetrators are considered guilty unless they can prove they are innocent.

With respect – get fucked.

I am a big supporter of doing more to prevent domestic violence. I believe protection orders are inadequate and blogged support a few days ago for the idea of tagging people who have broken a protection order or have previous domestic violence convictions.

But shifting the burden of proof, so that the accused has to prove they are innocent is repugnant and if that is the quality of what they are proposing, then the report is a waste of time.

But it offers “ideas for change” from those who gave evidence, including “a major review of the court system”. Ideas include:

• “Revisit the burden of proof so that it lies with perpetrators not victims.”

• Review the adversarial system which “places an excessive burden of proof on victims”, replacing it with “a more collaborative system where the burden of proof is on the perpetrator”.

That’s alleged perpetrator.


Tag domestic violence offenders

June 15th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The former Supreme Court judge leading the Glenn Inquiry wants to electronically tag men on domestic violence protection orders so an alarm sounds if they approach the family home.

Bill Wilson, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s release of the inquiry’s People’s Report, also wants a complete reform of the Family Court and is calling on a cross-party commitment to an overhaul of the family violence system. …

But Wilson says the patterns he has seen have led him to come up with preliminary ideas of his own.

An electronic tagging system for domestic-violence offenders could be introduced.

“We’ve had a number of tragic incidents in recent times where a former partner and children who were meant to be protected by court order have been killed by the man against whom the order was made. That’s an appalling situation.

“The reality is a man who is minded to attack his former partner and children will not be deterred by a piece of paper. If we can avoid one more situation [like this] then it would be justified.”

Sadly protection orders mean nothing to some offenders.

I would not support electronic tags for most cases, but where someone is the subject of a protection order and they have been convicted of either domestic violence previously or of breaching a protection order – then I think an electronic tag may save lives and be justified.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said GPS tracking was used for high-risk and child sex offenders, but had been widened to a small number of domestic violence offenders, and the Government was considering ways to expand that number.

Justice Minister Judith Collins said the Government had increased the maximum penalty for breaching a protection order from two years jail to three, more breaches were being prosecuted and further strengthening of laws around domestic violence was planned.

The Government was also considering a scheme modelled on a British law change called Clare’s Law, which allows police to disclose violence convictions to a new partner.

All sounds good.


Domestic violence and workplace productivity

April 3rd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The PSA commissioned some unusual, but interesting, research – on the impact of domestic violence on workplace productivity.

The executive summary:

Domestic violence is a workplace issue. It is estimated to cost employers in New Zealand at least
$368 million for the June year 2014. …

Employment is a key pathway out of domestic violence. The body of research about domestic
violence over the past 30 years finds conclusively that staying in employment is critical to reducing
the effects of violence. Security of employment enables those affected by domestic violence to
maintain domestic and economic stability, in this way assisting them to find a pathway out of
violence and to successfully re-build their lives.

This makes sense. If a partner is not working, they are more likely to remain in a domestic situation with violence as they’ll be nervous about leaving their partner if they are reliant on them for the household income.

Employers have the potential of productivity gains from implementing workplace protections that
support victims of domestic violence. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that as
well as the potential for breaking the cycle of domestic violence, the introduction of workplace
protections for people affected by domestic violence both saves employers costs (recruitment,
retention, re-training, health and safety) and increases productivity.

I’m not quite sure what workplaces can do (assuming the partner does not work there also) except generally be sensitive to any staff who experience domestic violence.

For every woman whose experience of violence is prevented as result of the workplace protections
in a particular year, an average of $3,371 in production-related costs can be avoided. This number
is conservative as outlined in the body of the report.

So what do they recommend:

  • That employers create and implement tailored domestic violence human resources policies
    that can be integrated with existing health and safety policies
  • That an on-line induction module be prepared that is freely available to all organisations
    which includes knowledge about domestic violence
  • To work with peak bodies to motivate take up of existing programmes focused on training to
    recognise, respond to and reduce domestic violence
  • Based on successful overseas practice, develop and implement a national policy that entitles
    victims of domestic violence to up to 10 days special leave

All violent crimes are bad, but I have to say I have an extra level of malice towards those who commit domestic violence. Your home is meant to be the one place where you are safe.

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Another protection order, another woman dead

November 29th, 2013 at 11:00 am by Jadis

I think few people will be surprised to hear that another woman has been killed by a man who she had a protection order against.

Police have named Sarwan Lata Singh as the 38-year-old woman found dead at a Wellington home in the suburb of Woodridge early Tuesday.

A man has been charged with her murder – and with breaching a protection order meant to keep him away from her.

The reality is that protection orders are pieces of paper.  They are useful as a means of accelerating action if a person is able to report to Police that the order has been breached.  Sadly, we have had too many cases of late where women in particular have been killed or seriously injured at the hands of someone who had one of these orders placed on them.

So if a breach of a protection order occurs, what can happen?  Police advise says:

The Court will give highest priority to the victim’s safety when considering bail applications. Where there is evidence that a breach of a Protection Order has occurred, the person will be arrested and cannot be bailed by the Police for 24 hours.

A breach includes failing to attend a ‘stopping violence’ programme.

The maximum penalty for breach of a Protection Order is six months in prison or a $5000 fine. The penalty increases to two years in prison where three offences are committed within three years. If other serious crimes of violence are involved, the penalties could be even more serious.

The most recent Ministry of Justice figures show that the number of people  convicted of breaching protection orders, by court location and year is:

    Court location 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013*

Christchurch 145 166 125 140 87

Hamilton 88 118 113 109 51

Rotorua 86 83 89 84 45

Auckland 89 85 83 94 41

Dunedin 50 33 48 49 27

Wellington 60 47 49 58 20

*Up to June 30, 2013

So are pieces the paper the answer?  Probably not but they are part of a multi-pronged approach and this Government has done much to strengthen the legislative framework.

Former Principal Family Court Judge Pete Boshier reflected on his time in the role:

In my time as a judge I have dealt with thousands of family violence cases, and that includes applications by women victims of violence for protection orders. The intensity and range of abuse is deplorable and at times I have felt deeply affected by what I have read. All judges are affected in this way. Family violence in our country will not be eradicated by legislative recognition and ongoing commitment by Police in isolation. Time and time again we need to give messages that family violence is harmful, that it injures our country and that it has enormous consequences. Until we get real about this, our progress in eliminating family violence will be too slow. I dream of a New Zealand in which family violence is not the norm for so many families and where there are happy, safe, secure children whose lives are very different from those of generations that have preceded them.

In the same speech Boshier suggests we create specific charges that are for family violence, ensure that assault charges specifically mention family violence in the way they are recorded and much more to put a public face to family violence offenders.

Of course, these measures all take place after assaults and other forms of violence take place. So, do we leave it down to education programmes to get people to understand what is and isn’t violence, to act early and report often?  What other measures need to be put in place?  There has been much talk of rape culture of late – do we also have a ‘violence culture’ (it could be argued they are one in the same) and is it always ‘over there’ and ‘not in my backyard’?


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When is it self defence?

July 21st, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Moves to push for a law change allowing battered wives who kill their husbands in cold blood to plead self-defence are being considered by a government committee.

The Family Violence Deaths Review Committee says New Zealand is out of step with other countries in not offering at least a partial defence for women who kill their husbands after years of abuse.

If there is to be such a defence recommended, surely it should be available to all spouses/partners – not just wives?

The defence can be used when the killing is an immedite retaliation but not when the killing is premeditated.

The committee initially planned to recommend a law change, but has stepped back from that while it continues discussing the proposal.

I’m against it being lawful to do a premeditated killing. Apart from the fact that when someone is dead, it is very easy to claim they were an abuser (as they can’t contradict any claims), the preferred response to domestic abuse is to leave them, not kill them. I know it is not as simple as that for some people, but killing is never the answer unless you are in immediate harm.


Tracking for domestic violence threats?

May 16th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Joelle Daly at Stuff reports:

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley wants to keep 24-hour tabs on serious domestic violence offenders – the same way high-risk and sex offenders are tracked.

The move comes after Christchurch man Nikki Roper was found guilty of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Alexsis Tovizi, only days after he was released from jail for a previous assault on the 21-year-old mother.

The killing, in December 2010, happened despite a protection order she had in place.

Protection orders are sadly of little benefit when the offender breaches them. It takes too long for a breach to lead to action.

Twenty-four hour GPS monitoring, announced last June, means Corrections are alerted to intervene if a tracked offender strays into a designated exclusion zone.

It must be imposed by the Parole Board or sentencing judge, and currently applies only to high-risk and child sex offenders.

However, in light of the Alexsis Tovizi case, Tolley said she had instructed officials to investigate how this could be extended under current legislation to cover domestic violence offenders.

“We want to do everything that we can to prevent and deter any would-be perpetrators.

“If this can stop one potential victim from being harmed, then it will be worth it.”

This could be a life saver. If the offender’s enters an area they have been banned from entering, then Police could be immediately notified and get there in time to save a life.

I imagine it would be used only when someone has already been convicted of threats and/or violence against someone and there is a significant risk of them causing further harm.


Tyson not coming

October 3rd, 2012 at 10:47 am by David Farrar

Kate Wilkinson has announced:

Mike Tyson’s visa has been cancelled by Associate Immigration Minister Kate Wilkinson today.

Ms Wilkinson says the original decision to grant a Special Direction to Mr Tyson was a finely balanced call and a letter of support from the Life Education Trust, that would have been a benefactor from the visit, was a significant factor in approving the application.

 “Yesterday evening the Life Education Trust contacted my office and asked for that letter to be withdrawn, making it clear that the Trust no longer wants to have any involvement with Mr Tyson’s visit.

 “Given that the Trust is no longer supporting the event, on balance, I have made the decision to cancel his visa to enter New Zealand for the Day of the Champions event.”

Ironically just this morning Tyson said:

Convicted rapist Mike Tyson has brushed off criticism from John Key, saying there is nothing the Prime Minister can do about his entry to New Zealand.

Key had earlier said:


Key today said Immigration officials also let in other people with similar convictions who were in New Zealand for short periods.

“It’s a marginal call and there are always issues that have to be reflected.”

A “fairly liberal” view was taken if the crime was a long time ago and there had been no further offending, he said.

“I don’t have anything personally against Mike Tyson. But I have something deeply personal against people who rape other people and commit crimes against women.”

Key said he turned down “numerous” people for New Year or Queens Birthday honours because they had convictions for violence against women.

“I will not allow them to have that honour. I don’t think that should be bestowed on someone. So it is not specific against Mike Tyson, I’m just not fond of what he’s done.”

Every year the honours list was checked by the police and while speeding tickets and historic drink-driving convictions were normally looked past, violence against  women was not, he said.

Tyson made it clear on television that he thinks he was framed for the rape conviction, which is rather different to someone who is remorseful for what they did.

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No helping some victims

August 14th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

This story really angers me.

A female police officer has a broken jaw after being assaulted while attending a family violence incident in Taupo this morning.

The officer and two male officers were called to an incident of a male assaulting a female in front of an eight-year-old at a Taupo View Rd address at 3.45am.

The female victim tried to physically intervene as the two male officers attempted to arrest the male, Taupo police area commander, inspector Steve Bullock said.

”The female officer was verbally and physically assaulted as she attempted to hold her back, receiving a kick to her face in the process.

”Despite having sustained a serious injury, the female officer still managed to apprehend and arrest the female offender.”

The female officer has been treated for a broken jaw and bruising but will not require surgery, Bullock said.

Just as hopeless medical cases have a no not resuscitate note placed on their files, maybe hopeless domestic violence cases should have a do not intervene note placed on their files.

If your response to the Police arresting the guy who was just beating you up is to attack the Police, and break a policewoman’s jaw, then why should the Police have to respond in future?

As they say, you can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink.

I just hope the eight year old receives proper care, so he or she is not in a violence laden household.


Mitigating the risk of stupidity

February 20th, 2011 at 8:50 am by David Farrar

Neil Reid at the Sunday News reports:

A REPORT into the risk of domestic violence during the Rugby World Cup has included recommendations for women-only spaces at the tournament’s 13 match venues.

It also proposes subsidised-fare taxis be provided for women at games on their own or who are unable to ensure they can return home safely.

My first reaction upon reading this story was that whatever Government agency produced this report obviously has too much time on their hands.

The report – Mitigating the Risk of Men’s Violence against Women Increasing During the Rugby World Cup 2011 – is being sent to RWC officials and sponsors.

It is written by women’s issues advocate Debbie Hager, from the Homeworks Trust, and Diane Woolson Neville, from family violence prevention project Te Rito Rodney.

I was relieved to read on and find out that it is just a couple of zealots, and the report has no official status at all.

It is true that there are some studies that suggest an increase in domestic violence after a rugby loss. But the violence does not happen at the rugby grounds – it occurs in pubs and bars or at homes. So the so called soution of “women-only” space at RWC games is stupid – plus of course would make us look an international laughing stock.


So sad

January 2nd, 2011 at 11:54 am by David Farrar

NZPA report:

A woman who was allegedly violently assaulted by her partner attacked police officers who came to help her in Hamilton this morning, allowing her partner to get away.

Police went to a Matai Street house about 2.45am after reports of family violence. Once there they found there was a warrant for the arrest of Martin Uta Tahau, Acting Senior Sergeant Craig Taylor said.

Tahau, 31, managed to run from police for a short distance. 

“The officers managed to handcuff one of his wrists but while attempting to secure the other, the woman who was supposed to have been the victim, came out of the house and attacked them from behind,” Senior Sergeant Taylor said.

Tahau struggled free and was now on the run with handcuffs still on his wrist.

Both officers suffered minor injuries in the assault and the woman who attacked them has been arrested.

You know, some people really don’t deserve our compassion. Despite that, I do feel sorry for her.


One in three women do not live in fear

October 5th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Women’s Refuge do a great job supporting female victims (and their children) of domestic violence. I always donate to them, and it is a disgrace how many women get beaten, and often killed, by their partners. Of course domestic violence is not all one way, but far far more women are hospitalised and killed then men.

However they sometimes let themselves down with their advocacy, and the Advertising Standards Authority has just upheld complaints over their recent advertisements. The Herald reports:

The Advertising Standards Authority has labelled Women’s Refuge claims that a third of women live in fear as “exaggerated”.

The body upheld two complaints about fundraising print and television advertisements that ran in July. In the newspaper version the Saatchi & Saatchi ads said: “One in three New Zealand women need your help. Because living in fear isn’t living.”

The television version repeated the statistic and asked viewers to “stop the abuse before it starts”. …

In its response, Women’s Refuge said the statistic came from sources including 2004 research which found 33 to 39 per cent of women experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

Further, a World Health Organisation study in Auckland and Waikato found one in three women experience physical or sexual violence from a partner in their lifetime. …

“While the majority of the complaints board acknowledged the veracity of the statistics, it was concerned that a study restricted to women living in Waikato and Auckland was used as the basis for national statistics.”

Similarly, it was concerned with the 2004 lifetime violence finding, which was based on an episode of violence becoming the “basis for fear”.

“In the majority view, it was inappropriate to extrapolate the claim ‘one in three women … are living in fear …’ from the research.

It is a good decision. If WR had said one in three women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes, then they would have been on solid grounds. But to interpret that as one in three women live in fear was painting a false picture of NZ and NZ women. Thankfully, many women don’t live in fear. The moment a partner whacks them, they throw the bum out, and move on with their lives. I wish more women would do this – few things are sadder than seeing women continue in abusive relationships because they think “something” is better than “nothing” when it comes to relationships.

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Safety Orders

June 30th, 2010 at 6:24 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Police will be able to issue safety orders from tomorrow that remove an aggressor from a premises, separating victims of domestic violence from their abuser for five days.

The orders can be made when police do not have enough evidence to make an immediate arrest and allow time for intervention by social agencies. They are part of a number of measures being introduced tomorrow to help victims of crime, including more financial help for families of murder victims and a national phoneline to handle phone requests from police for Victim Support help.

“Often police attend a job and although we suspect an offence may have been committed, or we believe one may well be committed, we are unable to charge a person and take them into custody,” said Inspector Brigitte Nimmo, acting National Family Violence Co-ordinator.

The orders would allow at-risk people some “breathing room” and time to meet police and other agencies.

Ms Nimmo said that in some situations they could save a person’s life. “It certainly plugs what has been a frustrating gap for police providing an effective way of intervening in a situation to protect families from violence.”

Our current laws and framework are ineffective.  The number of people who die at the hands of their partners is disgraceful. There is only so much the state can do to reduce this, but I think the new safety orders will be a much needed tool.

As with all tools, there is the potential for abuse, but the limited time period they can stay in force for, mitigates that.

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A fine is not enough

December 5th, 2009 at 4:21 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Anti-violence campaigners have condemned the penalty handed to a Taranaki rugby player who strangled his pregnant partner but escaped with a $750 fine.

Paul Perez, 23, lifted his partner Dana Carlyle Brooks off the ground in May, choking her until she almost blacked out, before he punched her in the nose.

And he gets a fine only slightly more than speeding tickets.

Jane Drumm, executive director of Shine (Safer Homes in New Zealand Everyday), said the sentence was “just not acceptable” and she was extremely concerned for Ms Brooks’ safety.

“When someone puts their hands around a person’s throat and does that, that means they’re very close to being killed,” she said. “That is how women die.

Strangling is no minor assault. It is an attempt to kill, not to hurt.

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Psychological Abuse

August 25th, 2009 at 9:13 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports on a survey by the Familes Commission:

A national survey reported today by the Families Commission has found that one in every seven Kiwi men say their partners get angry if they speak to other women, compared with only 9 per cent of women who say the same about their male partners.

Men are also more likely than women to say their partners stop them seeing friends and relatives, and keep track of them “in a controlling or frightening way”.

Overall, 23 per cent of men – compared with 19 per cent of women – report at least one of the six kinds of “psychological abuse”, which range from being put down or abused to the children being harmed.

That’s fascinating findings. In terms of physical abuse:

Long-term studies of people born in Christchurch and Dunedin in the 1970s have also found similar proportions of men and women being assaulted by their partners, but crime and health statistics show men are responsible for the vast majority of serious violence.

That makes sense.

While the Herald focused on more men than women suffering psychological abuse, the Dom Post takes a different approach:

Almost a third of Kiwi women and one in five men will experience violence and abuse at the hands of their partners.

I never like it when a story groups together two things – violence and abuse. I don;’t know whether abuse means violent abuse or psychological abuse such as detailed above. While both are bad, there is a difference between hitting someone and calling them a name.

I went to the Families Commission website to try and read the report for myself so I could work out what the actual stats means. Sadly they have not even out teh report online. This is basic stuff – always have the full report available on your website frontpage the day it will appear in the media.

If any journalist has a copy of the full report, I’d appreciate a copy if possible.

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Domestic Violence Advert

April 28th, 2009 at 2:19 pm by David Farrar

This advertisement featuring Keira Knightley has been banned in the UK as it is “too violent”. Madness they allow all sorts of violence in the TV shows, but won’t allow an ad that shows domestic violence.

It is a good ad – shows the brutality. And the end scene make me think of a certain recent case in NZ!

Hat Tip: Frog Blog

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Domestic Violence report

April 12th, 2009 at 10:13 am by David Farrar

The SST reports:

New Zealand is about to be shamed by a high-profile international human rights group that says we are not doing enough to turn around our horrific record on domestic violence.

My first reaction is good, because we do have a shocking record.

Last week Contesse pointed the finger at the New Zealand government, telling the Star-Times: “Under international law the government must do all it can to prevent domestic violence and punish such acts and if they don’t do everything possible to prevent such violence occurring they are in effect responsible.”

At this stage I start t get worried. Those who hit, kick and punch their partners and children are responsible for domestic violence. Not the Government. Of course the Government should always be looking to improve what it can do, but that does not make them responsible. The use of the term “everything possible” is somewhat alarming also – that could mean a Government social worker placed into every household.  mean that would reduce domestic violence, but would be a disproportionate response.

Contesse says Maori women should be triply protected by the Treaty of Waitangi, international codes for indigenous peoples’ rights, and more generic international human rights conventions.

And again I get worried when they babble on about Maori women being protected under the Treaty of Waitangi from domestic violence. What has that got to do with anything? All women (and men and children) should equally be protected from domestic violence.

The sad reality is that women who get abused generally most need protecting from the partners they choose to live with.

However: “Maori women are much more at risk of being assaulted or threatened by a partner… meaning, the NZ government is particularly failing Maori women in respect to domestic violence.”

Actually those who do the bashing are failing. Now don’t get me wrong – the Government has a role to play. I am a strong advocate of on the spot protection orders for five days. We need to make sure that the laws we have are effective and workable. We need to make sure that the Police and MSD have adequate resources to do their jobs. But let us not forget the prime responsibility lies with those who bash up their families.


Principal Family Court Judge on Instant Portection Orders

April 9th, 2009 at 4:27 pm by David Farrar

NZPA reports Judge Boshier:

The Domestic Violence (Enhancing Safety) Amendment Bill aims to strengthen what the criminal justice system can do to protect victims.

The new orders, which will last for up to five days, can be issued when police do not have enough to arrest an offender but they think the family is in danger.

Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier today told Parliament’s justice and electoral select committee he strongly supported the five-day order as in some places, such as Kaikohe and Greymouth, the court did not sit every day, leaving the victim exposed until it did.

“The real bubble in family violence is Christmas. Every January we are besieged with family violence orders and if you had five working days that would be, I think, a reasonable compromise between civil liberties and the need to be protective,” he said.

I am a strong supporter. I think victims of domestic violence get very little effective protection from current laws.

“What I could not support, if I could say very clearly and strongly, is any notion that there could be a right of a review before a court of that five-day order.

“We would not physically have the ability to cope.”

Some have called for there to be a right of review. It sounds like it is just not workable.

Judge Boshier also urged the committee to give police the power to arrest criminals who failed to attend programmes they had been ordered to go to, such as anger management courses.

Uptake of such programmes was “terrible” and police could only summons people who did not attend to appear before the court, a process Judge Boshier said was cumbersome and given low priority.

“I feel that if police had the power of arrest, they could deal with it instantly,” he said.

“I think it would have the effect of getting non-attenders to programmes much more rapidly.”

Not a bad idea.

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Blog Bits

December 29th, 2008 at 4:20 pm by David Farrar

Poneke is in Brisbane and has discovered it has the buzz of prosperity:

On the surface, the prosperity can be seen in the world-class infrastructure of roads and electric rail lines that Auckland in particular has not been able to achieve despite decades of talk; the very high standard of housing, commercial buildings and public facilities; the wages that really are stunningly higher than at home; the many job vacancies in the papers even on the Saturday after Boxing Day. Australia has not had a single quarter of negative growth this year while we have had three (though the Aussies fret about it and fear recession might still happen). I could go on.

MacDoctor shares some first hand experience of emergency clinics:

An article in the Weekend Herald (not yet online) entitled “High cost stopping Kiwis visiting the doctor” tells us that over two thirds of New Zealanders over 20 have avoided visiting a doctor because of the cost. I didn’t need any research to tell me this is true, because these people pitch up to emergency departments throughout the country with the line, “I couldn’t afford to go to my GP”  or it’s alternative “I owe my GP too much money”. …

I view these two excuses with a great deal of cynicism. Many who use these lines are drunk or have nicotine stains on their fingers (or both). They drive up in expensive cars and sport MP3 players (many are genuine iPods). They typically arrive not long after the GPs have all closed for the evening, or over the weekend. These are the “milkers of the system”  – They know how to work the health system to their advantage and they use Emergency Departments like a GP clinic. …

I suspect most of the two thirds of New Zealanders who said that they do not go to a doctor because of cost, are really saying that they would rather spend their time and money on something other than their health. It has nothing to to with lack of access and much to do with lack of interest. Until we, as a society, start to see that health is important and worthy of investment, this problem will not go away, regardless of the amount of money governments may throw at it.

Hear hear. I think all bar the very poorest should pay something towards their healthcare.

Bernard Hickey recommends a Kim Hill interview with JJ Joseph – a man who used to beat his wife. It’s a very moving interview that shows people can turn their lives about.

And finally Lynn Prentice at The Standard manages to link Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme to National’s planned repeal of the EFA. The hilarious part is:

based on recent experience of their autocratic, arrogant, and undemocratic behavior in the house, we will probably see some opaque, badly written, and badly thought through legislation pushed through under urgency.

What does he call the EFA if not badly written and badly thought through? And he ignores of course that unlike Labour, National has said it will consult all parties over the replacement legislation. It was Labour that tried to use bipartisan electoral law to screw over its enemies.

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Blog Bits

November 25th, 2008 at 5:07 pm by David Farrar
  1. Busted Blonde has a post on domestic violence and how she spent several years in an abusive relationship. Go read it, and make sure you show it to any friends who need to read it.
  2. Adam Smith blogs on the Giles cartoons. As a child I loved Giles cartoons, and every year could not wait for the annual. Grandma was my favourite character. For those who never saw them, you missed out on classics.
  3. Matthew Hooton makes the case for an Upper House.
  4. Steven Price reviews two decisions by the Advertising Standards Authority.
  5. Matt Nolan wants some better statistics from the Government.
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August 14th, 2008 at 9:36 am by David Farrar

Physical violence against your partner is bad enogh, but what sort of scum assaults his partner, when she is pregnant?

Sadly, around 10% of women, according to University of Auckland research, are assaulted at leaset once when pergnant. And this is physical assault – not some wider psychological definition of abuse.

The natural instinct to protect a pregnant woman is so strong, that I really can not understand how anyone could ever overcome that to hit a pregnant woman. Any domestic violence is unacceptable, but violence involving a pregnant partner is even more difficult to fathom.

I wonder what links there are between domestic violence to a pregnant mother, and child abuse once the child is born? I suspect there is a nasty cycle of abuse and violence there.