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Women drinking more, and more often

STACEY KIRK
Last updated 15:51 03/12/2013

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Women are drinking more than ever and the level of harm associated with alcohol is getting worse, a policy briefing paper has found.

Domestic violence attacks are more severe the drunker an offender is, and the involvement of alcohol in an attack can also result in an automatic shift in the perception of blame, says a joint briefing from Alcohol Healthwatch and Women's Health Action.

"Key informants said that the woman's drinking often shifts culpability from perpetrators to victims, sometimes leading to family violence charges being downgraded," the report said.

Director of Women’s Health Action Julie Radford-Poupard said gender clearly mattered when you took a closer look at alcohol use in New Zealand.

“We have found that women experience alcohol and alcohol-related harms differently to men. Alcohol is contributing to increased inequalities among groups of women and this signals a need for more concerted action and different approaches.”

The report found that women were drinking larger amounts and more frequently than ever before, and that the trend showed no sign of slowing down.

Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams said changing social and economic conditions and a liberal alcohol policy environment contributed to the increase in drinking among women.

“We are recommending a range of population level interventions such as increasing the price of alcohol and restricting its marketing, as well as community and individual level interventions that respond to the specific needs of women," she said.

The briefing paper has come ahead of a review of the national drug policy, and in the wake of the Roast Busters scandal.

That sparked an outcry over the alcohol-fueled behaviour of a group of male teens who bragged online about sexually assaulting young girls.   

The so-called Roast Busters are a group of West Auckland youths, understood to be aged 17 and 18, who allegedly had group sex with drunk teenage girls and bragged about it online.

The scandal saw a 110,000-strong petition calling for justice for the alleged victims received at Parliament.

Police have also come under fire for their handling of the matter, particularly since it emerged one of the four - aged between 13 and 15 - had laid a formal complaint two years ago but investigations went nowhere.

RadioLive DJs Willie Jackson and John Tamihere were stood down from their show after asking a witness in an on-air interview whether or not the under-age girls were drinking.

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The hosts discussed underage drinking, and why the girls were at parties without their parents' consent. "Girls shouldn't be drinking anyway, should they?"

- © Fairfax NZ News

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