Cross party support for minor marriage consent bill

Sometimes Parliament works and votes together to bring in worthwhile legislation.

Minors (Court Consent to Relationships) Legislation Bill

This bill proposes that 16 and 17 year olds who wish to marry must apply to the court, and sets out how the court is to consider the application.

This means parents can’t dictate that young people get married.

Marja Lubeck is a Labour MP. Jo Hayes is a National MP, as was Jackie Blue.

We used to have jokes about a type of forced marriage – the shotgun wedding – but that is history if it was ever much of a thing. I think most couples who were expecting a baby felt that marriage was the right thing to do back in last century.

This legislation shouldn’t be needed often, if at all. Marriages involving 16 and 17 year olds must be quite rare these days.

But it puts in place an important message about New Zealand principles.

 

 

The Nation – #metoo and workplace sexual harassment

Workplace sexual harassment is a big issue. The Nation is looking at this this morning, in particular on the law profession.

88% of respondents to a survey by the Criminal Bar Association reported experiencing or witnessing harassment or bullying in the legal profession.

65% of respondents to a anonymous Criminal Bar Association survey said Judges were perpetrating harassment and bullying in the workplace

It is likely to be difficult to stand up against that, given the prominence of males in positions of power.

Former Lawyer Olivia Wensley live in studio discussing workplace harassment – “The legal profession is small in New Zealand. There are grave implications professionally for speaking out”.

“I was never asked if I experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. We called it “discourtesy”. We need to call a spade a spade – It’s sexual harassment.

“You can be out the door within seconds if you dare speak up” about workplace harassment and bullying.

There is significant under reporting.

NZ Law Society President Kathryn Beck on sexual harassment in the workplace – “We have acknowledged we have a problem of under reporting in this area.

“We have to change our culture”

It is an embedded culture problem. Very difficult to change.

Wensley says ‘hit them in the pocket”. Education is not going to do much.

Now Jan Logie is being interviewed.

Under-Secretary for Justice Jan Logie on addressing sexual harassment in the workplace – “This is being taken seriously right across Government”

“Deeply worried” about survey stating judges have been perpetrating workplace harassment and bullying

It’s tricky when judges are a major part of the problem, and are employed by the Government, but there needs to be clear separation of power.

Jackie Blue: Police can’t stop abuse alone

Police can’t stop abuse alone

From the outside I had everything going for me. I was a young GP. I had great friends and a loving family. My boyfriend had moved in with me.

But the reality was far from fairytale.

I will never forget the day that finally spurred me to call the police. We’d been at a friend’s barbecue. It was something as small as people asking me about my job. That set him off. As we drove into our carport, he started hitting me as hard as he could.

That was the last time. For two years I was in a violent relationship. It wasn’t every week or every day. It was random and unpredictable. He’d belittle me and put me down. I felt too ashamed to ask for help. That was the great irony of my life. As a doctor, I was there to help people with their problems, but I couldn’t even help myself.

That’s the sad and brutal reality for too many women. Just over a week ago I joined with thousands of others to march against sexual violence in the wake of the Roast Busters scandal.

Unfortunately, that case is not an isolated incident. As I was write this, media are reporting that a woman was stabbed in Lower Hutt and a Northland man was convicted of 39 sex and violence charges spanning two decades.

One in three women will experience partner violence at some point in their lives. Only 20 per cent ever report it. This should not be tolerated. We have all the evidence and research. We know what works. We need action.

We have some excellent initiatives like the violence intervention programmes run by every DHB in the country. It is helping to reduce violence by aiming to screen all women aged 16 years and over for family violence and making sure those who disclose get the support they need.

Dr Kim McGregor and Rape Prevention Education are doing excellent work in our schools to educate our young people. It would be great to see more resources made available to roll out their programmes to a wide group of young people.

But what is urgently needed is a strategy to ensure there is a co-ordinated approach. The National Sexual Violence Prevention Plan that was scuppered in 2009 needs to be urgently reinstated.

But this isn’t something we can simply leave to Parliament and the police and hope they solve the problem for us. It comes down to what we do as individuals, families and communities. That is where the change needs to take place. Fundamentally, it’s about each of us taking responsibility for the problem. When someone is in a violent relationship, or they’re the victim of sexual violence, there will always be a bystander. Someone who sees the warning signs. Someone who knows what’s going on. We need them to speak up. We need them to tell someone.

Most men are not violent, but most violence against women is perpetrated by men. That’s why we need to support our men, because they’re the role models for our children. We need them to be part of the solution.

Today is White Ribbon Day. It’s a fantastic campaign raising awareness of violence against women.

This year we’re asking men to take a pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence towards women. Whether you are a husband, father, son, brother, uncle or granddad you all have women in your life that you wouldn’t want to see subjected to violence.

Make a stand and take the pledge.

Women in violent relationships are waiting to be asked. No one asked me. So I kept it to myself. Make sure the women you know no longer have to stay silent.

Dr Jackie Blue is the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, a former MP and the mother of two girls.