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PM using rape as 'political tool' offends lesbian MP

Fri 13 Nov 2015 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Among the politicans who walked out of Parliament on Wednesday, protesting John Key’s accusation that the opposition parties backed rapists on Christmas Island were rainbow MPs Louisa Walla and Jan Logie - who says the accusation deeply offended her..   MP's following a walk-out during question time. Photo: Gareth Hughes Green Party MP Jan Logie was one of the women who stood up to make a point of order and eventually walked out of Parliament after the Speaker of the House, David Carter, refused to make Key apologise for his comments, cut off the women speaking mid sentence and demanded they leave the house. A very personal subject for many, Logie was one of a number of female MPs whose point of order revealed a personal history and began with: “As a victim of sexual assault…” Logie says she stood up "because I was deeply offended by the PM trivialising rape and using it as a political tool to shut down opposition concerns about Christmas Island. “The [Prime Minister’s] comments took me back to remembering all the times I've seen families and communities ripped apart when people haven't believed the person disclosing. “It took me back to feeling silent and powerless”, she says. With a severe lack of funding for sexual assault support organisations around the country, Logie says the comments made by the Prime Minister reflect the government’s track record when it comes to the issue. “Sadly the Prime Minister has a track record of minimising violence, especially sexual violence, and his government's record on addressing the fact that we have the highest rates of Sexual violence in the OECD has been entirely inconsistent. They allowed services to close, gutted ACC supports, and have stifled attempts to improve our 1% conviction rate for sexual violence.” Echoing the anger felt by Logie, Helen Sullivan, General Manager of the Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation says: “I am not impressed with the Prime Minister's comments and using 'rape' as a political tool.” “I do not think the Prime Minister's remarks however are indicative of the general understanding and attitude towards sexual abuse and victims of sexual abuse within government. “Over recent years there has been significant progress made in developing responses to the high levels of sexual violence in the community. While we have a long way to go, we also need to acknowledge what has been done in recent years in terms of increased funding, the Select Committee Inquiry into funding of Sexual Violence Services and the Law Commission work on alternative Justice systems to name a few.” Questioning the humanity and the representativeness of our Parliament, Logie says when watching back the events that unfolded on Wednesday she was shocked, however she says the public support she and fellow MP’s have received gives her hope: “There has been an amazing outpouring of support for us taking a stand on behalf of ourselves and the thousands of other victims. “It's given me hope that the old attitudes and rape culture as expressed by the PM and speaker might have to give way soon. I'm looking forward to a time when our society makes it very clear that we don't accept sexual violence, we want to hear from victims and get them the support they need and we ensure those who offend are held to account and supported to change their attitudes beliefs and behaviours that enabled them to do so much harm.” Following the recent events in Parliament Sullivan says there is help available for anyone who feels upset and in need of support. “For people and particularly LGBTI communities who have experienced difficult feelings as a result of recent events there are a number of sexual violence support services available around the country,” she says. An LGBTI friendly service, Sullivan says HELP endeavours as much as possible to match their services to a person's specific requirements. Noting that some of HELP’s practitioners are members of the LGBTI community she says: “In addition we ensure that all our staff receive training to respond appropriately to the specific needs of people accessing support or counselling including referral to other more appropriate services if necessary.” Wellington HELP runs a 24/7 telephone support line as well as face to face support and counselling services and other services can be found here. For full list of sexual assault support services around the country and to find a service near you, visit the Rape Prevention Education website.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 13th November 2015 - 4:01pm

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