Yesterday ActionStation delivered their petition asking John Key to apologise for his comments and increase support for sexual violence services. The petition had more than 13,000 signatures.
Unbelievably, considering the uproar the original events caused, there seems to be only one article about the petition delivery online, and one opinion piece. I only knew about it because I got an email from ActionStation today – and I was online all of yesterday and I was one of the signatories.
I think this speaks volumes about our media’s lightning quick loss of interest in important political and socioeconomic issues, and not just mainstream media either.
But they’re not the criminal here. The National government, lead by Key with his reprehensible comments in the House, is responsible for the savage cutting of services for victims for sexual violence.
We can’t let that keep happening.
Here’s ActionStation’s Marianne Elliott:
Our petition had more than 13,000 signatures when I delivered it, and it was accepted by Poto Williams, on behalf of women MPs from the Labour Party, and Jan Logie and Metiria Turei from the Green Party. They confirmed that the official policy of both parties is to restore funding to the essential services and organisations that work both to prevent sexual violence and to support the healing and recovery of survivors.
I also had an email from the office of the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Louise Upston, explaining that she had a prior engagement at the White Ribbon event in Auckland. She made no official response to our call for funding.
So this campaign is not over, we have a long way to go to get the kind of leadership needed in New Zealand to halt the devastating rates of sexual violence in our homes and communities, and support all survivors on that long and often fraught journey to safety.
But as Poto Williams, Labour MP, said when she accepted our petition, yesterday was another step in the journey:
“The many brave women and men who have taken the courageous step of disclosure can take heart that there are many, many people out there that support and awhi them. The journey to safety is unfortunately long and fraught, but we continue until all our tamariki, our wahine and our tane are free from sexual abuse and violence. Kia Kaha!”
So we will continue. We’ll keep this campaign alive, and keep building support for it in the lead up to the Budget next year, at which point we’ll call on the Government to use our tax dollars to fund the programs and services that are needed to prevent sexual violence, and support survivors.
One of the reasons we have to take a stand on this, and so many other issues, is because the amazing people and organisations on the frontline of delivering these essential services risk losing their existing government funding if they speak out to criticise the inadequacy of that funding, and of this Government’s failure to show the leadership needed to end sexual violence in our country.
The reason we can do this is because we are independent, funded by people like you. We rely on the support of ordinary New Zealanders who believe in the power of a collective people’s voice holding power, and our politicians, to account. Will you chip in a few dollars to help us stay independent and ensure we can continue campaigning on this and other issues that matter to you.
Thank you for standing against violence, and for survivors.
This is not a post asking you to donate. I’ve just copy/pasted the whole email for transparency.
It’s a post asking you to be be aware. To not let these things capture your attention for their fifteen minutes of fame and then fall under the rug. That’s what the government wants to happen. We’re now less than a year out from the next election.
I agree with this from France Cook:
There’s a reason so many people signed. This isn’t a distraction issue or an opportunity to score political points for many people. It’s a serious, lived reality, and it’s difficult to get support.
The petition is admirable, but unlikely to change anything at this stage. A request for comment from the Prime Minister has resulted in a one-line written answer, that he’s advocating for all New Zealanders, while the opposition only care about those who’ve committed crimes. The most recent polls also show National’s support numbers haven’t been hurt, although Key’s personal polling has dipped slightly.
That dip is a warning. With many women unhappy about the Prime Minister’s repeated pulling of a waitress’s ponytail earlier this year, and now this, John Key might want to ensure he doesn’t build up a track record of mishandling women’s issues.
If sexual violence isn’t top of the agenda leading up to the next election, it bloody well should be.
It’s Not Ok.