After the Wellington College issue erupted last week when boys were exposed making claims or expressing false bravado about it being a thing to have sex with drunk girls, a protest was organised to be held outside the boys’ school.
That reaction was misguided, targeting a single school and singling out one incident would have likely inflamed the situation rather than help it.
A more reasonable and sensible protest was organised and it was held today outside Parliament.
Hundreds of people have gathered outside Parliament to protest against rape culture and call for better sex and consent education in secondary schools.
Not a huge turnout but a good number to make a strong statement.
Poor weather in the capital did not keep people at bay, with men and women of all ages – including at least 100 secondary school students – turning out.
On the lawn outside Parliament, Wellington High School student Norma McLean told the crowd she did not want to live in fear any longer.
“Today we send an important message to New Zealand that we will not put up with rape culture any longer… the buck stops here. I want my future to be equal to any man’s.”
Another speaker said: “It is important we teach the rights a woman has over her own body.”
Good on them for speaking up. This could be a turning point in teen attitudes towards sex, making it loud and clear that crappy and disrespectful and abusive behaviour and sexual predation and assault is not the norm and is not acceptable.
Much better to have the protest in a neutral location and having it at Parliament attracted attention from politicians.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Women Paula Bennett said the government had heard the calls to make sure consent was included in the curriculum for sex education, which was compulsory in Year 10.
“I think it is incredibly powerful that such a big group has turned out. I want to praise [those] that are speaking out and calling out behaviour that is not acceptable at any level,” she said.
Good to see the Minister for Women take part and take note.
A member of the group, Mia Faiumu, told RNZ’s Michael Cropp she hoped people would take away the message that joking about rape was not okay.
“It’s very harmful to people, to victims, and we hope that people take away that this isn’t an issue that should be normalised at all.
“We are calling for compulsory education within our schools on consent and we hope that is something that leads to wider discussion.”
Ms Faiumu said the protesters had received support from a number of MPs, and she hoped Ms Bennett’s promise their voices were being heard and changes were being made was true.
MPs from other parties also supported the protest.