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Weekly Media Roundup

August 17, 2018 at 11:14 AM

Family violence is up but prosecutions are 'disturbingly' down, new figures show

New Zealand's family violence problem is only getting worse yet police are prosecuting fewer people over the crimes in a trend described as "disturbing" by support workers.

Figures released to Mike Hosking Breakfast under the Official Information Act show police launched 121,739 thousand family violence investigations last year - or 333 a day. 

That's up from 73,280 in 2008.

The number of offences is also increasing – totalling nearly 39,662 in 2017. 

Yet as those numbers increase, the number of apprehensions and prosecutions is trending down with 16,764 prosecutions made last year – down more than 2500 from 2008. 

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Exclusive: Family violence prosecutions drop despite increase in investigations

Figures released under the Official Information Act show police are investigating almost 50,000 more family violence incidents, compared to 10 years ago.

The number of offences is also up, with almost 40,000 last year.

But the number of apprehensions and prosecutions is trending down with 16,764 prosecutions last year, down more than 2500 from 2008.

Police National Prevention Manager Eric Tibbott says the increase is due to a change in practice, where every family harm report receives the same level of investigation by police.

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Children's Minister 'alarmed' at numbers of proven child abuse

More than 10,000 Kiwi children were recorded as being abused last year - something the Children's Commissioner has labelled New Zealand's "enduring shame".

Figures released under the Official Information Act show that between its creation in April 2017 and March 2018, Oranga Tamariki recorded 13,966 substantive findings of abuse.

Those numbers were made up of 11,519 individual children - with some young people having more than one incident of proven abuse against them.

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Hundreds of rape evidence kits never get tested - should we be alarmed?

Imagine a traumatised rape victim being plucked and combed, prodded, swabbed and questioned for more than two hours, only to later discover that that evidence stayed in its sealed cardboard box, never to be analysed.

The scenario has provoked outrage in the United States, with some states passing laws to require the analysis of thousands of untested rape kits. Commentators argue there's a moral responsibility to test every kit, and DNA extracted from untested kits has identified hundreds of serial rapists.

In New Zealand, in the last financial year, only one in four evidence kits extracted from sexual assault victims was sent for forensic analysis. The previous year it was one in three; the year before that, more like 40 per cent.

The statistics raise important questions about who decides whether or not a sexual assault evidence kit gets tested, and how that decision is made. But the numbers are less straight-forward than they appear. Some kits go untested because the victim – despite putting themselves through the forensic examination – later decides not to make a police complaint.

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Service that helps abusive men calm down gets $1.7m

Houses that give abusive men barred from the family house somewhere to go are getting $1.7 million from the Government.

ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway made the announcement at the official opening of the Gandhi Nivas house in West Auckland on Thursday.

The service is expanding after the first house opened in south Auckland in 2014. 

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Specialist psycho-social support to be trialled for sexual violence court cases

A support group is backing a new service to help reduce trauma for sexual violence survivors.

The pilot programme, announced by Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni on Monday, will offer sexual violence survivors psycho-social support from Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation (HELP) as they move through the court system.

It is being trialled for a year in Auckland.

HELP Executive Director Kathryn McPhillips said people entering the justice system often feel re-victimised and the programme will help people deal with those feelings.

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Increased action against domestic abuse

Police action against those accused of breaching restraining orders in coastal Otago has reached a record number, but a domestic abuse charity says there is still a way to go.

Dunedin Women's Refuge last week said its safe-houses were in record demand, citing the deepening housing crisis and the impact of methamphetamine.

Police data show 13 proceedings were undertaken against those accused of breaching restraining orders in the Otago Coastal area in June, the most since police introduced a new method of recording crime statistics four years ago.

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Children's Minister Tracey Martin wants online pornography to be regulated

New Zealand could follow the United Kingdom in bringing in age restrictions for online pornography and blocking websites which refuse to comply.

Department of Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin, who also holds the children's portfolio, says young people are being "bombarded" by internet pornography and she wants censorship laws to be strengthened.

"This is a really, really big issue to New Zealand and we are going to have a serious conversation about it," she told the Herald.

"And I hope to make sure we have this conversation in this term of Government."

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Group meetings set up

A support group for male survivors of sexual abuse is ramping up its presence in Dunedin and Invercargill to cope as more survivors come forward.

The Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust, which has branches across New Zealand, is launching two weekly group meetings for survivors in Dunedin and Invercargill.

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Facebook investigating online abuse of Samoan author

Samoan author Lani Wendt Young is no stranger to online abuse.

She has spoken out on her blog and social media as a survivor of child sexual abuse and is an LGBT rights advocate - both highly contentious issues in conservative Samoa.

But none of her previous experience with bullying on Facebook over the past two years has prepared her for the torrent of threats - of death, rape and otherwise - that began in January on the platform.

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So dropping a c-bomb isn't OK, but rape threats are?

It's time we recognised cyber harassment isn't something that happens on the dark corner of the internet, propagated by trolls, with no real effects.

When men send me abuse, it's frequently from their work address. If it's on Facebook, they use their real names and are often pictured with their kids. These are not trolls. These are normal people, who think what they are saying is OK because no-one has told them otherwise.

Police, and the courts, need to start treating online violence the same way as if it happened on the street.

Because there is no longer any difference. 

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Dr Cathy Stephenson: 'Lesser' trauma can also trigger PTSD

The most obvious and well-known traumas associated with PTSD include being involved in a war, or being the victim of sexual or physical violence, however it can occur after seemingly "lesser" traumas as well, especially if they happen to an individual who has already been exposed to trauma before in their life.

PTSD can come on a few weeks after exposure to a traumatic event, or not appear until years later, and the disability that it causes can be almost as bad as the trauma itself.

I have had conversations with many hundreds of PTSD sufferers over the years, and what strikes me is that often explaining where their symptoms come from seems to be therapeutic in itself – it doesn't necessarily make them go away, but it can be helpful, and reassure them that this is an understandable, and quite normal, brain response.

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Corrections put a notorious sex offender in a motel. He's now suspected of abusing children there

A high-level investigation is under way into how a notorious sex offender supposedly under strict monitoring came to be housed in a motel, where it's suspected he may have abused vulnerable children.

Stuff understands Ronald Jeffries, who was subject to a 10-year extended supervision order after a lifetime of sexual offending, was placed in a motel in the lower North Island by the Department of Corrections.

Extended supervision orders are for the worst sex offenders and mean the person can be closely monitored in the community, but Jeffries has complained that it is like "enslavement" and "torture" and has allegedly breached the conditions several times.

The probation service decided to place him in a motel, a practice that has become increasingly common, after residents flagged concerns about his community-based accommodation.

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Advocate: sex abuse victims shouldn't have to pay to get name suppression lifted

An advocate for sex abuse survivors does not believe victims of such crimes should have to pay money to get their name suppression lifted.

Taranaki woman Trish Roigard set up Survivors Voyage United soon after a court decision in April which resulted in her own automatic protection being waived. 

The law provides complainants and victims the permanent right to keep their name and details secret and it is an order which can only be reversed by a judge.

Roigard was speaking out in support of sexual abuse survivor Brodie Joyce, of Wellington, who has called for the costs associated with such an application to be covered elsewhere, instead of the victim having to pick up the bill, which can run into thousands of dollars.

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Mother accused of blocking attempts to save young daughter's life

A Taranaki mother is accused of trying to prevent another woman from attempting to save the life of her young daughter, who later died.

The 34-year-old has pleaded not guilty to seven charges, including impeding rescue and child neglect.

The most serious charge of trying to stop the rescue of her school-age daughter, which carries a maximum jail term of 10 years, is alleged to have taken place on June 25, 2017.

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Big Read: How double rapist William Katipa was sent to prison and was able to become a monster behind bars

A serial sex offender was given the opportunity to commit violent rapes on fellow inmates after the Corrections Department deleted a warning saying he was not to be double-bunked.

Two of the three men who told police they were raped by William Katipa, 52, have been paid compensation by Corrections.

There is yet to be a settlement with the third person.

The actual number of victims may be much higher, with documents showing Katipa shared a cell with as many as 50 other people before the rapes emerged.

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Serious sexual and violent offender who threatened to chop up victim jailed

A man who threatened to chop his victim up with a meat cleaver before inflicting seven or eight hours of violence and then raping her has been sentenced to preventive detention. 

Samuel McCarthy Utatao, 59, was sentenced on Friday at the High Court in Auckland by Justice Graham Lang. 

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Buddy Mikaere's Mauao challenge for Tauranga Women's Refuge

Buddy Mikaere has climbed Mount Maunganui 114 times as a way to honour the memory of a woman brutally murdered on the walking track almost three decades ago.

It's the equivalent of scaling Mt Everest three times but he has no plans of stopping his regular treks.

This week, the local historian and respected kaumātua completed his third series of 38 climbs of Mauao to raise money for the Tauranga Women's Refuge.

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Exclusive: Ashley Allen - How my mum's rape helped me forgive the man who sexually assaulted me

Warning: This article discusses rape.

A savvy business mind, determined work ethic and unwavering drive helped a young woman create a business that is set to turn over millions.

But behind her ambition, focus and success, Ashley Allen, 30, kept secret a harrowing truth as to how her passion for the beauty industry was formed.

Built from unfathomable and tragic circumstances, the foundation of her eyelash empire was inspired by trauma from when, at nine years old, the mother-of-three was sexually assaulted by her friend's relative.

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Women-only ride-sharing coming to NZ with launch of DriveHer app

An Auckland law student is starting a female-only ride-sharing service, believed to be the first of its kind in New Zealand.

DriveHer is similar to Uber, where users can hail a car using a cellphone app. The difference is its drivers - and riders - must be women.

DriveHer founder Joel Rushton, 23, told Stuff he often worried about his partner's safety when she caught taxis home late at night when they were living in Melbourne and was inspired to start the business after learning about a women-only ride-sharing service in Australia called Shebah.

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New play sees teenagers tackle harm caused by porn

Staff at a Lower Hutt College have written a play tackling the pervasive issue of pornography, saying it's causing damage to intimate relationships between young people.

Two Nights stars four year 13 Hutt Valley High School students. It tells the story of two relationships; one porn-fuelled - which makes the young woman uncomfortable and coerces her into doing things she doesn't want to do - and the other healthy and joyful.

Dominic wants to film Fleur undressing and the two of them getting intimate. "But what if someone sees it?" she says. "Don't you trust me?" he asks.

Author and secondary school teacher Bernard Beckett says because pornography is normalised, young people don't even know the behaviours that stem from it are something they can complain about.

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Category: News Media